Not since Hair shocked Broadway audiences in 1968, has their been a musical that has so enlivened the genre. Spring Awakening, currently showing right now with the new company - Broadway San Jose - through Sunday, busts down the doors of propriety and jolts us into a teenage reality. Never has there been a musical that so honestly depicts the travails of growing up. Nothing is left out. Heterosexuality, homosexuality, rape, teen pregnancy, abortion, and child abuse, are all handled with utter frankness. These young actors wear their hearts on their sleeves and hold nothing back. The music is inspiring and heartfelt, and the chorography utterly unique and emotional.
Remarkably, Spring Awakening is an adaptation of an 1891 play of the same name, written by Frank Wedekind. Needless to say the play was banned in Germany at the time because of the subject matter. The play wasn’t even staged in English until 1917 in New York when only one performance was allowed with a limited audience. There were a couple of other staging in the 60’s and 70’s, but it has been mostly untouched by major American theatres.
Thankfully Duncan Sheik (book) and Steven Sater (lyrics) had the guts to create this work of genius. This show absolutely deserves the 8 Tony Awards it won 2007. Everything about this show either moves you, makes you squirm, or brings you to your feet. The two leads of this touring production Christy Altomare (Wendla) and Jake Epstein (Melchoir) are outstanding. In fact, the entire cast is just stellar.
Altomare is not only a superb musical actress but she has produced a number of CDs of her own. Her voice is sweet, soft and melancholic. Check out her latest album “After You – LA Sessions”. It’s a real treat.
Deserving of a special mention is Taylor Trensch playing the role of Moritz. His tragic, angry, and touching portrayal of the abused and troubled youth was key in creating the emotional arch of the show.
With the departure of our beloved American Musical Theatre of San Jose, the Nederlander Corporation is doing a wonderful job of bringing Broadway to the South Bay. I miss AMTSJ very much for a myriad of reasons, but I am glad that Nederlander seems to be making a valiant effort to keep us in the Broadway loop so to speak.
You only have a couple of days left to see this wonderful show. If you have teenagers, bring them. Don’t let the naysayers make you believe that this will corrupt your little darlings. Believe me, they talk about this stuff anyway. The show has a wonderful message, and may help you open up a dialogue with your son or daughter about life and all it’s messiness, happiness, tragedy, and hope.
Info Phone: 866-395-2929
Buy tickets at the Broadway San Jose Web Site
October 28-November 1, 2009
Thurs: 2pm & 7:30pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Boulevard San Jose, CA 95113