Friday, February 25, 2011

Pick of the Day: Spring Awakening at TPAC

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 5:03 AM

Spring Awakening
Where: TPAC's Jackson Hall, 505 Deaderick St.
When: Fri., Feb. 25, 8 p.m., Sat., Feb. 26, 2 & 6 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 27, 1 p.m.

The original 1891 play on which this 2007 Tony- and Olivier-winning musical is based was banned in Germany for a time. No surprise, since the portrayal of callow late-19th-century youth transitions from superficial innocence to dramatic, explosive emotional explorations (not to mention abortion, rape, abuse and other physical disturbances and manifestations). In other words, the kids are not all right. It’s like Rumspringa on steroids — or, better, aphrodisiacs — and the teens are adrift in their own land of ignorance and hard life lessons, while the responsible adults who supervise them are guilt-ridden and dishonest.

Linking all the drama together is an alt-rock musical score by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, the latter a singer-songwriter best known for the Grammy-nominated 1998 song “Barely Breathing.” Spring Awakening has a Rent-like feel, as young persons deal uncomfortably but passionately with hormones and then tragedy, featuring songs like “The Bitch of Living,” “My Junk” and the big Act 2 group number “Totally Fucked” pointing the way toward catharsis and the eventual hope of closer “The Song of Purple Summer.” This is the show’s second national tour, and it’s gone international as well; by the time 2011 is done, it will have been performed in Asia, Australia and almost all of Europe, including Austria — but not yet Germany.

Energetic and progressively staged — the original direction and choreography by Michael Mayer and Bill T. Jones, respectively, are recreated here by Lucy Skilbeck and JoAnn M. Hunter — Spring Awakening also is obviously intended for a more mature audience. This Nashville run is briefer than usual for a Broadway road show, so get it while it’s hot.

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