Spring Awakening: Rock That Leads To Talk

spring-awakening-001“Is this it?”

“This can’t be it!”

The confused and rebellious teens of the Tony Award winning “Spring Awakening” belt out these lyrics with a combination of horror and dead pan bemusement.  A contradiction that perfectly matches a rock musical set in an 1890’s German village.  These kids are about to become adults, but they have no context for dealing with one of the most powerful forces they will ever encounter: sex and sexuality.

spring-awakening-014Amazing how much hasn’t changed since 1890!

So let’s deal with the here and now of 2009, and the uplifting news that the national tour of “Spring Awakening” will arrive at The Colonial Theatre in Boston on April 28 for a one month run.  If ever there were a case where pop culture can span the generations, and open vital lines of communication, this is it.  “Spring Awakening” is simply too powerful a piece to be ignored.  It’s story demands a response … and in many cases that response is one of healing and understanding.

spring-awakening-005Let’s face it, when the high school years hit, family dynamics can really get strained.  Academics are more challenging and carry far greater consequences (hello, college applications) … the generation gap can feel like a canyon (music, movies, television, video games, etc often become divisive battlegrounds) … and then there’s sex (relationships, lack of relationships, self esteem, orientation) … all this stuff simmering away, ready to hit a full boil at any moment.

Where can a rational discussion begin?  “Spring Awakening” is one place.

spring-awakening-007The music of Duncan Sheik, the book by Steven Sater, and the direction of Michael Mayer have elevated Frank Wedekind’s century old drama into a timeless classic.  It’s been tamed a bit from the days when it was banned from production, but it’s central theme remains: that ignorance, intolerance, and repression will most surely lead to tragedy.

spring-awakening-010The star crossed tale of Melchior, Wendla, and Moritz is not a happy one.  They, and their friends, are caught up in a world that feeds them hard facts and half truths.  Their rebellion is articulated through rock songs that are both exhilarating and heartbreaking.  The lyrics often as raw as the emotions.

It’s the frankness, however, that will make the conversations after the show feel very of the moment.  Besides blunt language, the show also has partial nudity, and mature sexual themes.  Still, with teen pregnancy, teen suicide, and relationship violence all on-going problems in our schools, maybe a more direct approach is necessary.  The show is recommended for those over the age of 15.

I saw “Spring Awakening” on Broadway with my teenage son in 2007.  It was a bonding experience for both of us, and as we walked out of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre that night we saw many other families holding their kids a little closer.  I can only wish you the same experience at the Boston production.

Tickets are now on sale at the Colonial Theatre box office and through Broadway Across America.



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