Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Awakening

Last night I saw the Tony award-winning musical Spring Awakening at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). To be honest, I hadn't even heard of this show before it showed up on PPAC's season, but my frined Colleen knew someone who had seen it and didn't like it because of the content (basically it's a play about teen sexual awakening). YIKES! I must admit that at first I wasn't too excited about seeing this show. My first inclination was to trade those tickets for something else, but I never did get around to it. So, last night Sandy (my step-mom and also my friend) and I went to see it. And I'm not disappointed.

Spring Awakening is based on a play written in 1891 by a German playwright named Frank Wedekind. And it touches on absolutely every taboo imaginable: masturbation, incest, suicide, teen pregnancy, abortion. Did I miss anything? Some of these issues are dealt with with humor, some are only presented in song, and some are up front and personal. There is some (minor) nudity and plenty of profanity (including the "f" word). And all of this is why I wasn't sure I wanted to see this play. But, while there were a few moments where I felt uncomfortable, it was a strangely good play.

The music is absolutely wonderful (though I didn't love all the lyrics). The set is very interesting and has a "urban" feel and the use of lights is very clever. The underlying theme - is shame a function of education - is a very interesting premise, especially considering this was written in 1891! Can you imagine how this play was received at the time? The acting was quite good and a couple of the singers really stood out. Kyle Riabko who played the male lead, Melchior, has an amazing voice with an unimaginable range. As a matter of fact, he is a singer/songwriter in addition to being an actor and has toured with the likes of Maroon 5 and John Mayer. If you are interested in learning more about Kyle you can find it here. The other singer who really shined last night was Steffi D who played the relatively small role of Ilse. Steffi has a very rich and powerful voice. According to the playbill she was a Top 5 finalist on "Canadian Idol" in 2006. Not too shabby. (And for all you LOST fans out there, I just have to mention that the actor who played Karl on LOST, Blake Bashoff, has a big role in Spring Awakening and does an excellent job!)

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by Spring Awakening. There were definitely moments when I was thinking, "I'm not sure about this". But, when I left the theater excited about the music and the caliber of the actors and I woke up this morning still contemplating the content of the show, I know it was a good one. Even if it made me feel comfortable at times. I would recommend this show, with the aforementioned warnings.


Ginger said...

Good on ya for giving it the play a chance, in spite of the controvercial "warnings". I'm glad you liked it. I guess we out to be careful, though. We may end up as liberal as say... (gasp)FRANCE. (dun dun duuuun):D

Oh wait. What if you are French? What I meant to say was we may end up as liberal as the Brits.. er the Germans.. the Dutch? (cricket chirping)

Nice review. ;)

Anonymous said...


I am so happy that you enjoyed the play. I never had any desire,(as you know) to see this show but now you have me interested. If the opportunity ever presents itself in the future I may just go.


Alex the Girl said...

We have a few of the songs from the soundtrack. Very different, but I like it. When you mentioned the date of the original release, I was a bit surprised. Did they alter the script any to make it more modern?

Anita said...

I'm glad you decided to go, I have heard it was a good show. My friend lives in NJ and she takes her daughters to see a show in NYC each summer, and she took her then 14 year old daughter to see this last year. I wondered about the content and her maturity, but my friend said they both enjoyed it.
Good way to come out of your comfort zone, you know?

Pam said...

Ginger - Thanks for your comment! I'm really glad I gave the play a chance, too.

Colleen - If you can get one of your last minute deals, you might enjoy it. It was definitely thought-provoking.

Alex - That's a great question! I'm not sure if the plot was changed, but my guess is that it was NOT!

Anita - You are right about my comfort zone. After last night I've decided to think about shows the same way I do about book club. One of the great things about being in a book club (at least from my perspective) is that I get to read books I wouldn't otherwise have read. You never know when you just might be taken by surprise. Same for shows. From now on, I'm going to go to shows with an open mind and just see what I think!

Sandy said...

Nice review, I guess we were at the same show. :-)

Esther said...

Great review! I'm going to see Spring Awakening on Sunday and I can't wait. I saw it on Broadway in 2007, shortly after it won the Tony for Best Musical. I really loved it - I thought it was so energetic and electric and poignant. I loved the rock 'n' roll score. I'm so glad you decided to give it a chance.

Pam said...

Esther - Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love your description of the show - energetic, electric and poignant - perfect! I hope you enjoy Sunday's performance. And I, too, am glad I gave it a chance!


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