Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Look At Spring Awakening

On Friday, I went to see “Spring Awakening,” Duncan Sheik’s pop-infused Tony winning take on Frank Wedekind's coming of age story set in 19th century Germany.

According to Playbill magazine, many of Wedekind’s works were banned or performed in only censored versions. With “Spring Awakening,” it’s easy to see how controversial his work must have been back in 1891. Wedekind takes teenage angst to a new level, examining sex, abortion, homosexuality and suicide within the confines of a very repressed society.

Innocence Lost: Hunter Parrish (Melchior) and Alexandra Socha (Wendla) come of age together in “Spring Awakening

The show’s young cast, many of whom are Broadway first timers, bring impressively raw emotion to the stage and perform Sheik’s score with heartfelt intensity.

Hunter Parrish, on a break from his role as Silas on Showtime’s “Weeds,” ably carries the show as rebellious Melchior. Alexandra Socha is affecting as Melchior’s innocent love Wendla. And original cast member Gerard Canonico brings the house down as the tormented Moritz, manically struggling with his adolescence yearnings.

Still, despite its talented cast, “Spring Awakening” often fails to live up to the pathos of Wedekind’s complicated tale -- mostly because of Sheik’s music. Though catchy, his brand of rock ‘n’ roll gets to be a bit much, as does the show’s very graphic content. Multiple sex acts are simulated on stage.

While I’m sure Wedekind would disagree with me, I think some things are better left to the imagination. Then again, I’m the girl who didn’t start watching “Sex and the City” until the sanitized TBS version came along.

A national tour of “Spring Awakening” recently launched. The show wraps up its Broadway run on January 18th.

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