Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Spring Awakening

Last month I covered several musicals that centered on youthful rebellions. This week I'll add two more to that list starting with the teen angst rock musical Spring Awakening.

Frank Wedekind's groundbreaking 1906 play follows three teens who suffer the consequences of abstinence only education. Steven Sater's 2006 libretto is faithful to the plot but not the tone. Melchior and Wendla's relationship becomes kinder while Hänschen and Ernt's relationship becomes crueler. Wedekind provides Moritz with a deus ex machina at the end. Sater's Moritz must cope with his grief alone.

Deaf West Theatre's 2014-15 revival cast the show with a mix of deaf and hearing actors. They expanded the adult cast from two to four and emphasized the communication gap between the parents and children.

Composer Duncan Sheik's score is angry and exciting in the first act. Things turn ballad heavy, with one exception, in the gloomier act two. Sheik would return to Broadway that same season with the less successful American Psycho. As a fan of the score I'm hoping another company revives it some day to a more receptive audience.

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