Millennial Productions’ Spring Awakening | Rae Rose

The Fame Reporter interviewed rising star, Rae Rose starring as Ilse Neumann in the coming of age contemporary musical Spring Awakening, presented by Queensland’s own Millennial Productions, playing at the Ron Hurley Theatre until 29 January.

Born and raised in Queensland, Rae is a Brisbane/Meanjin-based artist who recently graduated from a Bachelor of Musical Theatre at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. During their studies, Rae performed the roles of Rosemary Pilkington in “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”, Rosie Hart in “The Wedding Singer”, and Maggie Jones in “42nd Street”. They look forward to continuing their studies in a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy at the Conservatorium this year.

“Spring Awakening” holds a lot of meaning for Rae, so they are more than excited to return to the show after performing as Wendla with Moreton Bay Theatre Company’s production in 2019. Rae enjoys challenging stereotypes in their performances and has had the best time working with Millennial Productions whose visions align with everything Rae believes should be addressed in the future of musical theatre.

We sat down with incredible theatre performer Rae Rose. Rae talked about coming back to the iconic musical, Spring Awakening, how important representation is in lead roles, working with dream company Millennial Productions and more.

Welcome to The Fame Reporter Rae, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
I’m so happy to be here! I grew up in a music-loving household so I always had that appreciation of creativity and musicality, but I really got into performing on stage doing my high school musical productions.

My parents also took me to see the 2015 Australian tour of Les Miserables when I was fourteen, and it took me five minutes of watching the performance to make the decision that I wanted to be just like the actors up on QPAC’s stage!

What about ‘Spring Awakening’ enticed you to want to be involved in the show for the second time and what was your reaction when you found out you landed the role of Ilse Neumann?
Spring Awakening holds such a special place in my heart. I love Duncan Sheik’s folk-contemporary/rock score, and Steven Sater’s writing is so hauntingly beautiful. I also relate strongly to the characters in the show, in the sense that when I was growing up in a religious household and community, I was instructed to avoid exploring any new feelings that I may have been experiencing.

I think it is so important for children and teenagers to fully appreciate changes they’re going through, and to have those who take care of them be there to help and support them rather than repress their emotions.

Telling Spring Awakening’s story is something that I will always want to do, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to audition for the show a second time.

When I got the call being offered the role of Ilse, I was overjoyed! I got the call the same day I auditioned and was so thrilled at the prospect of performing the show from the perspective of a different character. I was in the role of Wendla when I first did Spring, and she and Ilse have such different personalities and plot trajectories, so I was more than keen to get started on building my version of Ilse.

Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
Honestly, playing Moritz in Spring Awakening has always been a goal of mine, but if I had to choose a role outside of Spring, I would say any of the five vocalists in 35MM: A Musical Exhibition.

What do you love about Ilse Neumann’s narrative and what is challenging about the role?
Ilse is such a strong young woman, and that’s what I love about her. To me, she feels like a beacon of hope for the other children, even if they don’t realise it due to the nature of the time period. Her story is littered with such grim experiences, and yet she perseveres, which I think is so commendable.

It’s so important in shows with heavy themes like this that you make a clear separation between yourself and the character you’re playing, as taking on emotional baggage from the character could prove to be mentally unhealthy.

Our beautiful director, Taylor Andrews, made sure that we all de-roled after emotionally heavy scenes and full runs of the show, which is something I hope all directors and actors can take on board in the future of the theatre industry.

What have you learned about yourself and society during your involvement with this show?
Being apart of Spring Awakening has been so healing for my inner child. When I did the show for the first time, I came to the realisation that I’d been holding on to so much of what my younger self didn’t get to experience, so having the chance to work through that in an environment where I was supported was so wonderful.

The sad truth is that Spring Awakening and its themes are still so relevant today, despite the fact that the show is set in the 1890s.

People look at the actions taken during the show and believe it’s primitive, but when you look at the world around you in the present day, you can still see these ‘primitive’ things occurring on a daily basis.

I won’t say too much as to spoil the show, but I hope that audiences leave the theatre with a desire to listen and change.

How important is representation in the theatre and arts community in general?
Oh, it’s so important! I’m so glad that I can start to see things changing in the theatre industry currently but there is a long way to go until actors of all ethnicities, genders, body types, and abilities are treated with equity in this community.

I hope to be a part of the new generation helping that change along, because I certainly wish that I could have seen more trans representation when I was growing up without the issue being treated as a joke.

Kids deserve to know that the feelings and experiences they live are valid and not a source of low-hanging fruit for media companies to capitalise on. True representation matters.

What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Okay, Robin Williams is at the top of my list, 100%! I’d also love to have David Tennant there, and (for my Dimension20 lovers out there) Brennan Lee Mulligan is also on the list.

How do you think your time as a student of Queensland Conservatorium informs your current career progression?
The Queensland Conservatorium has provided me with a solid education on the musical theatre industry. I absolutely appreciate the time I spent there, the skills I learned, and the friends that I made during the process!

Coming out the other side of the degree has been quite daunting, especially as a performer whose dancing training isn’t extensive.

I hope to be able to use my degree in any way I can, whether that leads to a fruitful performing career, or supporting and nurturing the passion of like-minded people as their teacher.

Has there been any bonding on and off stage with this incredible cast?
Absolutely. Spring Awakening is a show that basically lends itself to bonding experiences within the cast, which is something I adore about the show. The cast loves and supports each other more than anything.

I honestly love being able to come off stage from a heavy scene to see my castmates dancing in the wings, and they’re always there to offer hugs if it proves to be too much emotionally. I love them to bits!

What do you love about working with Queensland based theatre company Millennial Productions and what are some of your future dreams?
Millennial Productions takes care of its cast and crew. I deeply appreciate the fact that they have intimacy and fight calls, and are so willing to change blocking depending on the actors’ comfortability, things I had not experienced in community theatre before.

Rehearsals feel like a safe space and the people you get to work with are genuinely lovely human beings. I highly recommend auditioning for their shows in the future!

This is legitimately the best experience I’ve had while rehearsing and performing for a show.

Why do you think people love this show and the style of this contemporary musical, as it tackles major social issues like mental health and abuse of power?
It is honest, it’s moving, and above all it’s relatable. Also the combination of 1890s Germany and modern styles of music is such a fun concept that Sheik and Sater handled brilliantly.

I have yet to find someone who doesn’t bop along to “The Bitch of Living” and I think that’s pretty telling!

Why should audiences come along and see Spring Awakening?
For a chance to see a raw piece of theatre that is brave, thruthful, and hauntingly beautiful. If not for the plot, come for the music and to see the talented cast!

Fame Reporter Word Play    

Spring Awakening

Bucket list


Favourite mantra when you are down 
You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.

Any secret talents
I can play the tin whistle.

Favourite Musical
Spring Awakening

Savoury or Sweet


Dressing Room necessity
Mint slices

Celebrity Crush
Brennan Lee Mulligan

Can’t live without
Physical affection


Qld Con

Favourite Artist

Favourite Spring Awakening song
Mirror Blue Night

Place you want to travel to

Pre-show snack
Mint slices

Childhood dream

Future dream

TV Show Binge
New Girl

Finally, favourite thing about performing
The fulfillment and chance to leave an audience thinking.

Thank-you Rae for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for Spring Awakening!

Ron Hurley Theatre
Now playing until 29 January 2023

Production photos by Clear Image Photography

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