Spring Awakening: The Musical

I wrote this for the Stony Brook Independent in the Spring 2011 semester. I’m posting this now because so many hits on the blog have been people looking for a Spring Awakening review, and I think this is more of what they’ve been looking for.

Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening came to Staller Center for the Arts on Sunday evening.

The story centers around a provincial German town in the 1890s, a place that seems far removed from the experiences of college students today. However, the play quickly establishes that there is something here for everyone.

It is often a heart-wrenching narrative. Although it is possible to argue that Wendla and her love Melchior are the main characters, the play really features an ensemble cast of equally important characters.

From Melchior’s best friend, Moritz, who is struggling in school, to Wendla’s friend Martha, who is beaten at home, all the characters represent real struggles of real people, even though the setting is a bit alien.

As with all Broadway shows, the musical numbers are the most important aspect of the production. The music, by Duncan Sheik, has a rock flavor that is at odds with the 19th century setting. Still, somehow it works.

The songs represent an emotional spectrum as full as the story requires. The calm of “Mama Who Bore Me,” is followed by the happy-go-lucky musings on a crush in “My Junk,” and the heaviness of child abuse is given its due weight in “The Dark I Know Well.”

“Spring Awakening” is intended for mature audiences only and there’s good reason. A passionate scene between Wendla and Melchior is quite graphic, and there is some graphic language throughout. Appropriately, two of the most entertaining songs in the show are “Totally Fucked” and “The Bitch of Living.”

Although it’s probably not a show to see with the parents, “Spring Awakening” is definitely worth seeing.

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