Theatre Review: Spring Awakening

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Sex. The subject comes up early and often in “Spring Awakening.” It starts innocently enough when a high school age daughter asks her mother where babies come from.
" . . I still have no idea how it happens.” (Audience laughter).
But things turn serious, when two hormone-fueled teens get caught up in the moment and initiate a physical relationship. There are plenty of these sexual situations – both straight and gay – and they are handled in a manner that’s more frank than a 1950s musical, but with less shedding of clothes than many modern day R-rated films.
It’s easy to identify with the unprepared teenage lovers at the center of this story. They suffer devastating consequences – they’re living in Germany circa 1890, and their parents and school authorities crack down hard. It’s a cautionary tale, a sad, familiar story told sincerely, and in heartfelt terms. . . even though it comes wrapped in teen-oriented pop songs, based on the indie rock sound.
The polarity between the 19th Century costumes and the modern pop music, along with the shimmering, timeless nature of the plot, make “Spring Awakening” a thought-provoking, memorable show. I recommend it. But if you’re of the opinion that musicals should be lighthearted family fare, in which intimacy is signaled by a brief symbolic kiss . . . this one may not be for you.

(music out)

"Spring Awakening" continues at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre through November 15th.