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.