Kansas City’s theater season has started out with a bang. Just days after the final curtain for the KC Rep’s amazing production of Into the Woods, the touring production of Spring Awakening hits town as part of the Broadway Across America Series at the Music Hall.
I walked into this show knowing very little about it. I intentionally did minimal research on the show so I could go in fresh. Sure I knew the basic stuff, it is a seven time Tony award winner, so a quality lineage is there. A sort of coming of age rock musical based on a controversial 1891 German play. That was about the extent of what I knew.
What I didn’t realize was how much of a treat I was in for. I was handsomely rewarded for my modicum of research. This is an amazing heart racing show. The thing that got me most was the outstanding soundtrack. The topper? An equally great stirring story is there to go along with it. Tales of young lust, frustration, and tribulations that come with maturity in a time when such feelings were not to be explored until marriage for risk of living in shame. Seems simple and done right? Think again. The musical which was first staged back in 2006, using a play first performed in 1906 as source material, has tones that are still timely and relevant today. Especially here in the west where nudity is frowned upon, certain groups frown upon sex education of their children, and let’s not even get started on same sex relationships.
Spring Awakening meets all these issues, and more, in a pulse-pounding head on manner. As young adults begin to explore these feelings, take action on them, and suffer the consequences. The soundtrack by Duncan Sheik with Lyrics by Steven Sater follows each of these themes perfectly and also keeps things from getting too dark and bleak considering some of the dark themes that are covered. The cast did a wonderful job as no one performance stood out from the others. The leads all nail their rolls and I thoroughly enjoyed every performance, even those of the supporting cast which is just as strong.
There were several highlights on the soundtrack. I also enjoyed the aggression/punk tinged stylings of most of the numbers featuring Moritz. The two stand outs however were “The Bitch of Living” and “Totally Fucked.” Every guy can easily sympathize with “Bitch,” at one time in their life or another. The piece is about dreams, and lusting after something seemingly unobtainable, but one that once obtained often leads to even more unexpected frustrations. “Totally Fucked,” however, is the stand out of the show. Everyone has had that moment in their life, although I am fairly certain the consequences weren’t as harsh as those that Melchior faces, where they realized that they are completely screwed and have no way out. This song is the anthem for times like those. As those song titles suggest, if it wasn’t already obvious, this isn’t a show for kids. Teenagers would feel right at home with most of the situations, but you may want to do some reading to determine if it’s right for your teen. The tour site has a handy parents guide for the show.
Musical and theater fans in KC have been in luck as of late with the stand out quality of the productions taking place. Don’t be one of The Guilty Ones that misses Spring Awakening. It is in town through Sunday so don’t wait around on getting to the show. This is a spectacular production with a great cast, and great music resulting in a show that should not be missed.
By John Coovert
One of our Spring Awakening ticket winners, Shane Adams also wrote a review you can read that here.