‘Spring Awakening’ Brings Issues to Light

‘Spring Awakening’ Brings Issues to Light

The Theatre Department’s “Spring Awakening” opens on April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and continues its run April 17, 18, 22-26. The April 26 show is a matinee that begins at 2 p.m. All other shows begin at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-show talk beginning before the April 23 show. -Brittny Roberts

One of my favorite things about musicals as a medium is the way powerful issues can be told and made approachable through the use of song.

“Rent” addressed the growing issues with drug addiction and AIDS at the time it was produced. The original novel of “Les Miserables” is nearly 3,000 pages long, which is condensed to roughly three hours in a musical that still gets a lot of major themes across. While I am not familiar with the original story “Spring Awakening” is based on, it seems the idea carries to this piece as well.

The 19th century German setting may, at first, turn some people away, thinking the piece is antiquated and has no relation to a modern audience. The songs help to make the play contemporary. If one were to listen to the soundtrack alone, the songs would sound like something from present day. In fact, if a person had no background on this play and there were no German names, anyone could think this play was set in 2015.

Speaking of the music, I could not help but tap my feet along with the songs. This is truly a rock musical, full of energy and defiance to its very core. While very serious topics are addressed and the songs to reflect that when appropriate, the real ear worms are the songs that exude angst and insubordination, which perfectly sums up any teenager.

All of the teenagers in the play deal with issues that are still relevant today, especially for those living in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Sex is not often an issue fully addressed in our conservative society, and “Spring Awakening” addresses the repercussions of not fully educating future generations.

I really enjoyed the creative decision to make each authority figure, such as everyone’s parents and the teachers, played by only two actors. It really carries the message that every figure of authority in the play is just an interchangeable face, all working to stifle the children and keep them in line with proper society.

As mentioned by anyone promoting this play, it is for mature audiences. I do not consider myself conservative, but some scenes even made me blush. Not only are there what I will call “simulations” throughout the play, but also things like suicide and abuse. Don’t just leave the kids at home, but anyone you think may object to these topics being discussed.

The messages of the play not only apply to teenagers and puberty, but also college students. College is a very stressful time when students have a tendency to get wrapped up in their own lives. They may not realize when others need help or how their actions impact others. Students are in this limbo point in life where they are on the brink of adulthood but often still feel like children. It’s a tough time in life, and this piece is perfect for a university audience.

I feel like the entire theme is summed up in one line by Melchior’s mother: “Surely you boys are at an age to decide what is good for you and what is not.

The play opens on April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and continues its run April 17, 18, 22-26. The April 26 show is a matinee that begins at 2 p.m. All other shows begin at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-show talk beginning before the April 23 show.

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