Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

A&C Recommends: Spring Awakening

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

By Dora Thompson

Hormones will be raging this weekend at USM, where the Tony Award winning musical, Spring Awakening, will be playing. Directed by Edward Reichert, this dark coming-of-age drama is infused with catchy power-ballads.

When Frank Wedekind wrote this play back in 1891, it was meant to be a criticism of the sexually oppressive culture of the time. Due to the plays variety of controversial themes, Wedekind’s work was often banned. A century later, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater revamped this tale of budding teenagers into a musical and by 2006, it hit Broadway.

This is first time Spring Awakening will grace USM’s stages, and Reichert is excited to bring it to the community.

“It is an amazing showcase for some of the talent that we have here at USM,” said Reichert. “They’re young kids doing an exciting piece. I think that’s reason enough to come see it.”

This provocative musical follows the struggles and strife of several teenagers, frustrated mainly by the adults in their lives.

Wendla, one of the main characters of this show, frets over where babies come from, while Melchior questions authority and religion. Physically and sexually abusive domestic lives plague some of characters, while distress over erotic dreams pester others. A confused journey of sexual discovery ends up having serious consequences, and all of it is set to breakout rock anthems.

The modern music of the show breaks the audience member out of the time period and into the relatability of the performance. Songs like “Mama Who Bore” and “Touch Me” are instant adolescent classics, especially when backed by a seven piece band, under the direction School of music alumna Kellie Moody.

Spring Awakening is considered a new rock musical, but it has a string quartet plus the rhythm section.  It has a nice mix of sounds, and it’s going to be really gorgeous when it comes together,” said Moody.

Each member of the band is sprinkled amongst the stage, rather than gathered in a pit. Reichert explains that this helps with the storytelling if the audience can see the musicians.

Acting with these controversial themes of the play can be a difficult task, even more so than the German pronunciations that the play requires.

“This play deals with more difficult subject matter than anything I’ve been a part of,” confesses Matt West, a senior musical theatre major who will be playing Melchior.

The actors discovered that growing up in 21st century America is not too far off from 19th century Germany, as will any audience member who’s made it through their teenage years.

“This play is very relevant to us,” said sophomore music major Ali Sarnacchiaro, who plays Taya. “Some of the songs we perform is just a way for us to get out our own angst and emotions, because we’ve all been through this, or are still going through this.”

Stop by the Corthell Concert Hall this weekend if you’d like to hear raw and relevant adolescent issues expressed through a ridiculously rhythmic score. As Kershenbaum describes it, “It’s different from any musical out there. It’s a rock show with a story.”