Theater Review :: Spring Awakening

If you have the opportunity, go see this musical. Winner of eight Tony’s in 2007 including best musical, music and choreography, Spring Awakening is based on the play by Frank Wedekind written just prior to turn of the 20th century. It was banned shortly after its release, and only at the turn of the 21st century has been revitalized into a musical that mixes Germany in 1891 with modern music and hairstyles.

It is the story of teenagers on the brink of experience under the pressure of strict and repressed parents, school masters and ministers. It deals with an array of themes including love, lust, sexuality, suicide, child abuse, abortion, runaways and friendship. Probably the one criticism I have of the play – which also went for those I went with – there is so much going on that there is little ‘story’ and even less resolution.

However, the music is fantastic. Think of a mostly acoustical version of the Pet Shop boys with an occasional Taylor Swift/ Miley Cyrus influence. There’s one score with the dark tone of Alanis Morissette –  “The Dark I Know Well” tells the story of a girl visited at night by her father (see YouTube music only version below). The musicians and actors are phenomenal. It is incredibly entertaining – you’ll have no idea that 2 1/2 hours have passed.

An interesting mechanism within the characters was the use of one adult female and one adult male who played multiple characters – all of the adult roles in the production. A risky move, but one that works well to draw further contrast between adults and teens as the teenagers are struggling to gain experience. That said, if there is any resolution to the story, it is that the sex act does not banish innocence.

Disclaimer: The show contains nudity and explicit portrayal of strong sexual themes. 

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