“Spring Awakening” revived

A century old play banned in Germany finds new life in theaters.

Photo courtesy Decca Broadway

Ashley Goetz

Photo courtesy Decca Broadway

âÄúSpring AwakeningâÄù WHEN: Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 WHERE: Orpheum Theatre TICKETS: $28.00 to $78.00, 1-800-982-2787 Three cups teenage angst, two tablespoons of risque nudity and a pinch of the heel-pounding rhythm of âÄúStomp .âÄù Those are the ingredients for the controversial musical âÄúSpring AwakeningâÄù that is now playing in Minneapolis. Based on the 1890s-era German play by Frank Wedekind, âÄúSpring Awakening âÄú is an explosive depiction of teenage self-discovery and the wonder of being young. ItâÄôs chock-full of controversial issues, including sex, rape, suicide and masturbation. Forget everything you know about musicals, because âÄúSpring AwakeningâÄù doesnâÄôt strut flamboyantly or tout anything reminiscent of the Rockettes in its production. Instead, the audience is faced with somber pop ballads that flip into hissing emotional chants, like the showâÄôs opening number, âÄúMama Who Bore Me,âÄù and alternative rock jams such as the jamming school boy song âÄúThe Bitch of Living.âÄù Indeed, each performer displays fantastic presence and emotive vocals in a way that helps this dark gem sparkle on stage. The music was written by Duncan Sheik (yes, the same singer/songwriter who penned the âÄô97 hit âÄúBarely BreathingâÄù) and lyrics penned by Steven Sater, an American playwright and poet. A pained coming-of-age story, âÄúSpring AwakeningâÄù focuses on Wendla Bergmann and Melchior Gabor and their teenage classmates, who have been tossed into adulthood with no knowledge of their sexuality, longing for intimacy without understanding its origin. The school girls brood over their crushes while the boys masturbate to erotic postcards and fantasize about their busty piano teachers. âÄúEven 120 years (after the playâÄôs conception) âĦ (the storyâÄôs events are) something weâÄôve all gone through recently,âÄù said Ben Moss, who plays the school boy âÄúErnstâÄù in the production. He has been traveling with the cast and crew since last August and believes that it is the playâÄôs social relevance, stage experimentation and air of defiance that earned it eight Tony awards in 2007, along with a 2008 Grammy for âÄúBest Musical Show Album.âÄù Moss, who will attend Harvard this fall to study music, raves of songwriter Sheik and lyricist SaterâÄôs talent, and credits it for the playâÄôs outstanding public reception, saying âÄú(they) did such a terrific job crafting the music and lyrics.âÄù As these youth issues have echoed 120 years past their origin, so will the dark humor and painful homages continue to strike minds and spark conversation into the future.