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Tony award-winning rock musical

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Spring Awakening: Not Your Grandparents' Musical Theater

  • Feb 26, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+4
When I first heard that someone was making a modern rock adaptaion of the 1891 Frank Wedekind play that had been banned and censored for decades due to its inclusion of masterbation, abortion, rape, bondage, child abuse and suicide, I was absolutely dubious. But since everyone had only positive things to say about the show, when the tour came around my way, I finally saw Spring Awakening...

And I was completely blown away.

Set in late-nineteenth century Germany, the story follows Wendla Bergmann, Moritz Stiefel, Melchior Gabor and their peers as they struggle to understand the meaning of sexuality and violence in a oppressive, repressed society where adults refuse to answer any hard questions.

Composer Duncan Sheik layered a brash and haunting rock score on top of this dark period piece and choreographer Bill T. Jones supplied violent modern choreography consisting of a lot of stomping, smashing and jumping - and somehow the pairing of old and new worked to perfection. Alternating from traditional period-appropriate scenes to shocking modern song and dance made the material both more relatable and more intense.

The only disappointment for me was that the rape scene from the play was changed to a consensual sex scene, changing Melchior and Weldla's relationship completely. This pivotal event was apparently present in workshops of the musical, but was changed after hearing audience feedback to the scene. That said - the musical does not shy away from any of the other hard subjects - child abuse, abortion, suicide - each accompanied by evocative lyrics and music, heart wrenchingly delivered by a talented cast of Broadway newcomers.

The original cast included Glee's Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff (who was still performing with the tour by the time I got around to seeing the show because I'm a lucky, lucky girl) and John Gallagher Jr. (who is going on to star in American Idiot this spring).

One of the most wonderful elements of the production is that a few lucky audience members are given seats on the stage - so the characters stomp at them, sing to them and look to them for support throughout the show. Very few productions allow audiences such intimate interaction and everyone I know who has been on stage for Spring Awakening has walked away raving about the experience.

This show is fantastic. Prepare yourself for something dark, shocking and emotional and you will walk away with chills running down your spine and the feeling that you've experienced something completely new.
Spring Awakening: Not Your Grandparents' Musical Theater Spring Awakening: Not Your Grandparents' Musical Theater

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February 26, 2010
Thanks for the review. You taught me some things about the history of the musical. Last year I saw the Broadway Across America version of Spring Awakening at Actor's Theatre in Louisville. I thought the musical was great. I'm not one for musicals, but this is not your ordinary musical.  It focuses on themes which most shy away from.  There were many in the audience who left during the intermission never to return.  I guess it isn't everyone's cup of tea.  I'm very glad I saw it and I found it to be very memorable.
 
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More Spring Awakening reviews
review by . November 13, 2009
Title: Spring Awakening   Director: Michael Mayer    Staring: Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, John Gallagher Jr., Stephen Spinella, Christine Estabrook, Lauren Pritchard   Company: Atlantic Theater Company   Genre(s): Drama    Suggested Age Group: Mature Audiences       Buy From Amazon.com: Soundtrack (Tony & Grammy Winner)[Explicit] / Soundtrack (Tony & Grammy Winner) [Explicit] [MP3] / Book (Tony Winner) / Vocal Selections …
review by . February 26, 2010
 When I first heard snippets of this show and saw a preliminary video to Bitch of Living on itunes prior to its Broadway opening, I was intrigued.  Upon listening to the soundtrack, I was even more intrigued.  It was fascinating to go back and read the original play and see how the musical had been adapted from this work.      I had the great fortune of seeing this show on tour twice (Once in Minneapolis and once in Chicago).  Both times I was mesmerize by …
Quick Tip by . February 26, 2010
What can I say? This is no ordinary musical. It is based on Frank Wedekind's amazing play. Run DON'T walk to catch this stellar tour!
About the reviewer
Valerie Rigsbee ()
Ranked #313
Valerie Rigsbee is an actor, designer and webmaster currently based out of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul.      She owns and operates broadwaymusicalhome.com, a directory … more
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Spring Awakening is a Tony Award-winning rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The musical is based on the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. Set in late-nineteenth century Germany, it concerns teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. The original play was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide. In the musical, alt-rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score. During the musical, characters sometimes break the fourth wall to express their motivations and desires directly to the audience.

After a number of workshops, concerts and rewrites over a seven-year period, Spring Awakening premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company on May 19, 2006 and ran through August 17, 2006. The show then opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on December 10, 2006 and received favorable reviews. Spring Awakening received eleven 2007 Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Tonys for best musical, direction, book, score and featured actor. The show also won four Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical. The production is directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Bill T. Jones.

Decca Broadway released the original cast recording on December 12, 2006, which won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2008. The guitar Sheik used to compose songs for Spring Awakening is on display at the New York ...

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