Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's not a secret that I love quite a bit of musical theatre. It's no secret that I like sex or sexy things. I could even say I like 19th century German literature. As for Duncan Sheik, hmmm...not sure I've ever had an opinion. But I do now. We saw "Spring Awakening" in New York, and I cried a lot during the show, wouldn't let my husband touch me afterwards, and have been singing the soundtrack non-stop ever since.

The show is flawed, sure...but any experience that can bring a sharp, clear picture of my own history right to my eyes gets my approval. The terror, the loneliness, the yearning, the energy, and the confusion of my adolescence was reenacted by the hyperactive teens on the stage that night. The show is all gorgeous lighting and a pretty, old-school set, Bill T. Jones choreography (we are fans from ADF), and luscious music - I really can't say enough about what the music brought to the show - even the microphone exchanges and reveals delighted (they were hidden onstage, in costumes, and tossed around). "Spring Awakening" got me, and I got it. That's saying something, especially when one considers it is a MUSICAL.

The play is ancient, and though it still speaks to teenagers, the producers' decision to add modern choreography, lighting and sound makes perfect sense and gives the play not relevance, necessarily (because it is relevant, miraculously), but energy. Lots and lots of energy. And because the young have energy to spare, everything works together to make the stage pulse with a sense of possibility and dread. As a woman watching SA I think I was more unnerved than anything, remembering the decisions I had to make almost daily about how to live and act and the fear and uncertainty and pure excitement associated with becoming a sexual being.

Jonathan Franzen hates this version and has written his own translation of Wedekind's novel. My friend had seen the workshopped version and had even played Wendla in college (in a production that, not unlike others and even the original text, sees the sex act as less than consensual), but she loves it - this the girl who avoids musicals like the plague. Obviously, the production is bringing out strong emotions in people besides me -- just Google it. It is a MySpace sensation!

Between "Once" and "Spring Awakening", the musical has found new avenues. For that, I am incredibly grateful...even Franzen says he is not thrilled to have to diss anything that is causing such new-found interest in live theatre. I'm glad to be living in a time when this particular art form has received a major kick in the ass.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...


Our mutual friend loaned me his CD, and I could never really get into it - did you listen to it before you saw the show? Perhaps it's one of those that you have to see to appreciate. Maybe I'll have to revisit it.