Teen angst is nothing new but it takes great art to make it beautiful. That's exactly what "Spring Awakening" will do — and more — when it opens at Ovation Theatre this weekend.
Director Hal Friedman describes the rock musical, which won eight Tonys for its 2006 Broadway debut, as a "genre-bending work."
"It’s at once a period piece/coming of age story, and a modern rock 'n' roll/high school movie," he wrote in an email of the show based on an early 20th century German play.
Seeing it on Broadway, Friedman said the show left him speechless.
"It was more than just a story with songs," he said. "It was meaningful in a way I hadn’t yet seen a musical be. ... 'Spring Awakening' transcends being just a dramatic musical. It is something more. It’s reflective of the human condition, in a way most musicals are not, and it touches all who see it. No matter race, creed, religion, or political leaning.
"It’s a tough show, one that does challenge the viewer to examine themselves, but it’s one that the audience is better for having seen."
"Awakening" utilizes alternative rock to delve into the story of teenagers exploring their sexuality. Friends Moritz (David Allen Alvarez) and Melchior (Jacob Chivington) are polar opposites: Moritz is a shy boy fearful that he will fail in school while his rebellious pal is intent on upsetting the status quo. Wendla (Carolyn Fox) also struggles as she feels unprepared for what the world expects of her as a young woman. Escaping an abusive household, Ilse (Nichole Heasley) finds refuge in an artists' colony but is not able to as easily aid her peers.
Their classmates — played by Dakota Nash, Braeden Addison, Jackie Salazar, Brett Walker, April Toelle, Jonathan Cañez and Holly Rockwood — also face growing pains as impending adulthood and love loom large in their lives.
With a frank discussion of topics often considered taboo — rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide, abortion — the original play was often censored or banned.
For this production, Friedman said no one under 18 will be allowed without an adult, likening it to an R-rated movie.
The director said this musical is about acceptance, and he hopes people considering opening their hearts wide enough to let others in.
"I hope audiences take away, we should accept our children and youth as they are, not as wish them to be."