Last night I met up with a friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. It was great to get caught up. She’s someone who I can not really talk to for years and yet it feels like no time has passed. I love that!
The three of us (her sister was in town as well) saw Spring Awakening. It won a load of Tony Awards a couple of years ago, and the music was written by Duncan Sheik (of “Barely Breathing” fame). The show is based on a play from the 1800s about teenagers discovering their sexuality – which I would like to read, because I think it’s probably better than this show. The music is modern (the lyrics make reference to calling people and listening to the stereo), but it’s set in 1890 and quite good. Nearly everyone was very talented – except the lead. I mean, he can sing, but he was more “best Baritone at his local high school” than “best choice for Broadway,” if that makes any sense. Oh, and everyone was ACTING.
I didn’t know what to expect from the show, but I have to say some of the scenes made me uncomfortable. Not because of the subject matter (hello, I’ve been 16, I get THAT), but because people who were playing 16-year-olds were simulating sex on stage. Yeah – the fact that a bunch of older men were there, and would probably be adding the breast the young female lead showed to their spank bank just creeped me out a bit.
Some of the story lines were well done, especially in the first act. We got to know the kids, and their back-stories. There were two “adults” who played all adult roles, and they did an excellent job. But the second act seemed too short for what they were trying to accomplish. The ‘downfall’ of the main lead boy’s character wasn’t developed enough. Some serious plot points occurred so quickly that there wasn’t really time to absorb or contextualize them. That might work in a more talented playwright’s hands, but to me, here, it just seemed that they realized they only had an hour to tell a bunch of stories and didn’t adjust it accordingly.
I won’t be recommending the show. But if you get a chance to listen to the original cast recording (I’m assuming the original male lead was better), do it.