There's a You in Poseur

I was raised by punk rock. I hate musicals.

In his director notes, Ken Gargaro says “Spring Awakening will take you back to your adolescence.” If you spent your childhood in a jejune trance awaiting absent guidance Ken is absolutely correct. If you grew up confronting your problems you will probably be disappointed.

Spring Awakening is about teenagers stumbling through sex and suicide, homosexuality, child abuse, abortion and control. These are exactly the things I expect from Black Flag or The Dead Kennedy's, not The Byham. Sadly, no one on stage resembles Henry Rollins or Jello Biafra – no matter how many faux hawks are thrust in the audience's face. The characters better resemble Bavarian caricatures of The Jonas Brothers, without their purity rings.

The first act introduces three central figures, Wendla (Kathlene Queen), Melchior Gabor (Logan Williams) and the tragic Moritz Stiefel (Jameson Talbot Corrie). A slight background is provided but the majority of time is spent on each of them coming in to their own, and at times each other. Wendla is a niave pubescent teenager, ignorant of sex. Melchior is self-absorbed and nihilistic while Moritz is dim-witted, intense and a coward. For the first half of the performance Moritz is a frantic Chicken Little. He's having wet dreams, and instead of enjoying them he's ashamed and terrified. Melchior interrupts his isolated day dreaming and inner reflection just long enough to attempt to console his friend, but Moritz is so afraid he cannot sleep. His grades drop and he is guilted by his father. Despite being offered an escape to a bohemian paradise by a beautiful childhood friend, Ilse (Adrianne Knapp), Moritz pursues his own foolish permanent solution.

Set in 19th century Germany, the musical version is adapted from a German play of the same title. Though the original 1892 play was banned, the 2007 rock musical version won eight Tony Awards. Unsurprisingly the audience was teeming with young adults. This show is an indisputable allegory for the millennial generation. This is the age of teenagers who flaunt ambiguity and ignorance as playful innocence. This musical is certainly obsessed with that exact indecisiveness and is summed up perfectly when one of Wendla's friends exclaims, “How will we know what to do if our parents don't tell us?” Here's an idea: think for yourself. At least Moritz can be respected for doing that much.

The second act begins by name dropping Martin Luther. Despite not giving two tugs about religion I've always thought of him as the punk rocker of Christianity and I admit I chuckled at his name. Even Martin Luther would tell these kids to put a tampon on it. The ending was more an act of Darwinism than tragedy and I muffled more than one cheer that drew shocked looks from those around me. The real tragedy of this performance is the talent of the cast and crew being spent entertaining sheltered yuppies and hipsters seeking to validate their angst at the parents who bought them their tickets.


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