When the German playright Frank Wedekind completed his expressionist play in 1891, it sparked controversy, censorship and rage. In 2006 the play was made into a rock musical, uniting a serious and dark plot with energetic and passionate music. Although this transformation very much changed the show’s appearance, the story stays the same and continues to be relevant for each new generation.
Spring Awakening: The Musical deals with a group of confused and troubled German teens, on the break of adulthood and dealing with all the issues that adolescence throws at them. The musical covers topics such as sex, masturbation, suicide, domestic abuse and the consequences that ignorance, shame, and lack of information can have for the people involved.
Although the musical continues to be performed all over the world, this production claims to bring something new to the table: all members of the cast and crew, from the actors themselves to the live pit orchestra, are high school students, the age group about which the play was originally written. This has an interesting effect, not only in the sense that a small group of young actors and actresses basically have to carry the show, but also in the way that the awkwardness and insecurity that the cast is trying to convey appear genuine and real. Particular mention should be made of Julia Medine and Ryan Savage as the young lovers, Wendla and Melchior. Their performance to a large extent carries to the show and both are convincing in their parts.
The actors carry out their parts with energy and dedication, and many of them show large musical talent as they perform some of the musical’s more challenging pieces. That being said, one cannot ignore the fact that some of the vocal performances don’t quite do the songs justice and that the acting at times appears somewhat exaggerated, a fact which underestimates the serious nature of the storyline. This musical is a challenging piece to take on by anyone, and even more experienced actors and actresses would find some of the more emotionally draining parts hard to communicate well. Although this production to a large extent does what it sets out to do, at times it doesn’t quite manage to convey the seriousness of the issues the musical sets out to deal with.
Spring Awakening: The Musical is a challenging piece. The young cast and crew of this production on the whole carry out their jobs convincingly, making this production, despite its flaws, well worth your time.