« Picasso at the Lapin Agile: The Future Is Relative | Main | “Jerry Springer” Reveres God of Trash Talk »

Spring Awakening: The Bitch of Aging

National tour of Tony Award-winning musical about the emergence of teenage sexuality may not fully satisfy an older audience but unquestionably sings to today’s younger generation by injecting a contemporary pop/rock sensibility into a repressed Victorian Era story

It’s official. I’m old. Despite excellent performances and inspired staging, particularly by innovative choreographer Bill T. Jones, Spring Awakening, the Tony Award-winning musical currently playing at Boston’s Colonial Theatre through May 24, didn’t move me. Altomare and RiabkoWith all its raw pubescent angst and melodramatic sexual posturing, the show still left me emotionally cold. I guess as a person closer to menopause than the onset of menstruation, I simply couldn’t relate.

Not that I ever could. My particular teen obsessions fixated on academics and tennis matches, not the laundry list of sexual concerns and aberrations that drive the thin plot derived from Frank Wedekind’s groundbreaking nineteenth century play of the same name. Child sexual abuse, check. Physical abuse, check. Wet dreams, check. Masturbation (lots of it), check. Sado-masochism, check. Nudity, check. Homosexuality, check. Losing one’s virginity, check. Teen pregnancy, check. Abortion, check. Suicide, check. The notion that teens are inherently good and adults are inherently bad, check.

Spring Awakening: The Musical (not to be confused with the recent Zeitgeist Theatre production of Spring Awakening the play that just ended a well-received Boston run) tries so hard to make an “important” intellectual impact that it sacrifices sustained storytelling for episodic point making. Not that there aren’t moments of great theatricality to be savored in this much touted touring production. There are. But the credit for engaging the audience empathetically in the characters’ alternating pain and tenderness goes to the choreographer and exceptionally committed cast, not the writers Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. If it weren’t for the tremendously expressive physical and vocal interpretations delivered by a stunningly talented group of young actors, the inner conflicts that torment the show’s repressed private school boys and girls on the brink of adulthood would be lost in a haze of obscure lyrics and repetitive musical phrases. Michael Mayer’s bold direction, Bill T. Jones’ anguished choreography, and the cast’s uniformly uninhibited performances make Spring Awakening stronger than it really is.

To read my complete review at BroadwayWorld.com, click here.

PHOTO BY PAUL KOLNIK: Christy Altomare as Wendla and Kyle Riabko as Melchior

Hosting by Yahoo!