The UWG theatre company kicks off their fall 2016 season with the startling musical “Spring Awakening.” Steven Sater wrote the book and lyrics, and the music is by Duncan Sheik. The musical, set in 1890s Germany, is comprised of several teenagers awakening to their sexual fantasies and desires while also facing censorship from their parents and teachers.
“It is the awakening to your body and how it feels to attraction, to other people, whether that be opposite or same sex,” said director Shelly Elman.
The musical is based on a play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. Written in 1891, it expressed Wedekind’s associations with teen suicide and censorship of mature content. The play eventually pushed theatres into an expressionism mentality.
“It is the inner thoughts of these characters that they can’t get out in their world,” said Elman.
The musical will feature a live band, including a guitarist, bass guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, cellist, violinist and violist.
“It’s a rock musical,” said Elman. “It is a postmodern play in that it takes place in 1891, but the music is very modern and so we break out of that 1891 and go into present day. I think people will like the music.”
Though the musical was intended for Broadway and a conservative mindset, it does contain mature content that can be shocking for audiences. Scenes of sexual nature, intense language, suicide and abortion are present throughout the play. Audience members must be 18 years or older.
“In terms of some of the story elements, they lightened them up a bit,” said Elman.
The musical features several themes that Elman feels is relatable for college students.
“I think it speaks to our primarily student audience, and I think they can relate to it because it’s about them,” she said. “I think we still have generation gaps, and we’re still debating what we tell young people about sex and whether to be transparent or not. I think all of it is sadly still relevant. It relates to people, and I think that if they can get over the graphic nature of some of the scenes, they should be open to what the musical is saying to them.”
Actors Bria Belton, Darius Dennis, Rosie Gyselinck and Adam Kirks play protagonists Wendla, Melchior, Isle and Moritz respectively. Melchior and Wendla engage in a tumultuous love affair while Moritz faces extreme pressure from his parents to do well in school. Isle is a runaway teenage who faces abuse and tragedy.
The musical begins with a community preview on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. The performances then run from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m. The musical will take place at the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts on the main stage.