Who Says Moritz in Spring Awakening is a "Straight Part"?
by Dan Savage
on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Misha Berson thinks Jerick Hoffer is too gay to play Moritz in Spring Awakening, which he's currently doing—and doing beautifully—in Balagan Theater's production of the Tony Award winning musical. Berson's review has prompted a fresh round "Can gay actors can convincingly play straight roles?" dickering. (You know who created the role of Cornelius, the young & straight male romantic lead, in the original Broadway production of Hello Dolly? Charles Fucking Nelson Fucking Reilly.)
But is Moritz necessarily straight? Meaning, is "straight" the only possible and legit interpretation of the role?
Rest of this post after the jump because SPOILERS!
Moritz is plagued by erotic dreams, he's neurotic, he's an insomniac, he's BFFs with the hottest and most charismatic boy at his school, he's distressed to the point of revulsion by the anatomically-correct drawings of the vulva that his BFF creates for him, he has an extremely complicated relationship with a father who sees him as a weak and pathetic failure, he can't bring himself to run off with an attractive bohemian girl who clearly wants him, and... he blows his brains out.
Hoffer played Moritz straight and he played Moritz as straight. But it wouldn't be a stretch to play Moritz—to interpret the role—as a conflicted closet case with a crush on his best friend. And the erotic dreams Moritz tells his best friend about? Moritz says they're about women's legs... but maybe that's what he told his BFF because he can't bring himself to tell him what he's really been dreaming of.
It's an alternate interpretation of Moritz, not the interpretation that Hoffer made, but it's a legitimate and entirely plausible one. So even if Hoffer reads as gay in this production—and I don't think he does—I don't see how that would interfere with someone's ability to enjoy and be moved by Hoffer's performance.