There are many moments in life that I'd like to relive, but, I gotta tell ya, most of those that occurred in my tween and teen years could be washed from my memory right now and I would not care one iota. The pain, the agony, the tears, the uncertainty--Ugh! But even if they were gone, even if I could no longer recall the emotional roller coaster ride that is adolescence, those moments are embedded in my psyche, in my very bones, and they make up a significant part of who I am today. Because of that, I have no regrets. Also, it fills me with glee to make fun of my dark and brooding teen self! She kinda likes it, too.
No doubt most of you wouldn't wanna go back to your torn and anguished young selves either, trying desperately to conceal the volcano under a slouchy, "whatever" disguise, but that era of your life contained the kind of pure and uncontrolled intensity you can never fully experience again. Change and growth is good, very good, but there's room to feel a little sad about such a loss as well.
Take heart though, dear reader, for the world is in no danger of running out of teenage angst--it's been in huge supply for a long time--nor are we lacking in the amount of insufficient adult response to that angst. This Frank Wedekind knew all too well while he crafted his revolutionary play Frühlings Erwachen (Spring Awakening) in 1891 to the horror of upstanding Deutsch society.
A tale of despair, suicide and burgeoning hetro- and homosexuality amongst German teens--yes, Germans like sex, too!--the play puts forth a critical analysis and details the tragic ramifications of a repressive culture where young people are not provided with the information they need to deal with their transforming bodies, their desires and their lives. Sound familiar? Indeed.
The play was banned from public performance until 1906 and did not see an English version performed until 1917. And there it lingered in the annals of theatre, with just a smattering of productions in the years that followed.
Enter indie musician Duncan Sheik and playwright Steven Sater. Along with director Michael Mayer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, the two took hold of the play and created a relevant and--truthfully?--pretty rockin' musical that fairly honors Wedekind's original vision and speaks directly to our own failures in being open and honest with the young kids. Just 'cause there's hot girls with big bosoms--haha, I love that word!--and hot guys with all-they-do-all-day-is-workout abs everywhere ya look these days, doesn't mean we know anything when it comes to really talking about sex. In fact, it represents both a symptom and consequence of our silence.
So, why am I tellin' y'all this? Well, here's a little somethin' you may not know about me: I was raised on musicals! I know Guys and Dolls, South Pacific and a myriad of others like the back of my gray matter, people, and I don't go for lame rehashes or couldn't-find-a-decent-storyline-if-ya-used-a-magnifying-glass musicals either--Rent, anyone? Show me somethin' real, somethin' genuine, and don't skimp on the lyrics.
I'm also telling you this because the touring production of Spring Awakening has just hit Miltown! I know I don't normally write about bigger-than-Jesus shows, but I think you should go and see what the hullabaloo is all about. No kidding, I really do! And if you happen to have teens in your life--say between 15 and 20--depending on their and your level of maturity, you should take them, too. Here's a helpful Parent Guide to help ya decide.
Now for a super polished music video:Phew! It's angry, whiny, frustrated, uninhibited, and kinda cool--just like teenagers! May I just say that the choreography in that scene, as they kick their feet like little boys while expounding on manly needs, is quite simply brilliant.
Spring Awakening opens tomorrow night, October 6, and runs through October 11 at Uihlein Hall Marcus Center For The Performing Arts. It ain't cheap, but can you really put a price on youth? Um, well, yes, apparently ya can and folks do it all the time and usually that's wrong--very wrong!--but you should go anyway.