Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Awakening at PPAC

I saw the opening of Spring Awakening at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) last night. The Tony-award winning musical closed on Broadway in January and has been billed locally with the disclaimer: Parental Discretion Advised--Mature Themes. They aren’t kidding.

My stepdaughter, Pam, started talking about it recently. Pam & Geoff have season tickets to PPAC. She said she wouldn’t be taking either Katie or Madeleine as the content wasn't appropriate. Geoff wasn't interested, so she offered me their second ticket. I went with an open mind with no idea whether I would like it but I really did.

Adapted from a play written in 1891 in Germany and originally banned there, the play deals with teen angst and blossoming sexuality. Among the subjects touched upon are homosexualtiy, masturbation, rape, suicide, incest, teen pregnancy and abortion. I think they got 'em all. Although there is only a small amount of nudity in the play, there is some pretty nasty language in some songs, and there are scenes which could make you uncomfortable, although often done with humor.

Set in a German town in the 1890's, the opening scene is a young girl who, saying she still believes in 'the stork,' asks her mother to tell her the truth about where babies come from. The mother tries but can't bring herself to explain the facts of life to her daughter, and she later pays dearly for that lack of knowledge.

The best part of the production, for me anyway, was the music which was written by Duncan Sheik. Several songs made me think of Rent. The band (basically a rock band with guitars, strings & percussion) was set up at the back of the stage and in full view which was pretty cool. The set was interesting and made to look like the inside of a brick building. Not much moved around during the play. They did a lot with various colored lights throughout; depicting various times of day and different settings.

One very curious thing was that there was a set of “bleachers” on each side of the stage facing each other. We arrived several minutes before the curtain and there were already about 20 teenagers sitting there. They stayed for the duration of the play. There were a couple times when they were quite ‘up close and personal’ to the action on the stage, and I thought that I would have been a little bit uncomfortable sitting there.

As I said the music was great. The lead of “Melchior” was played by Kyle Riabko who debuted in that role on Broadway and is now touring. A singer/songwriter in his own right, I really enjoyed his stage presence and his voice. I bought his CD (with two songs from Spring Awakening on it)on the way out of the theater and have already listened to it several times. His style makes me think of an edgy John Mayer; lots of acoustic guitar alone with his vocals.

In some of the quotes I have read, Steven Sater, who adapted the story and wrote the lyrics, says that the play is appealing to a broad audience and is creating a ‘dialogue between the generations.’ I don’t know that I can really envision that but I guess it’s possible. Anyway, I’m glad to have seen Spring Awakening and will be curious to see what other people are saying after the Providence run.
Images from Google Image


Pam said...

Great review, Sandy. I wholeheartedly agree. I'm glad to hear that you like Kyle's CD. I'll have to borrow it.

Sandy said...

Thanks, Pam, and thanks so much for taking me along. So glad I didn't miss it.

Esther said...

Hey Sandy,
Thanks so much for the comment and for adding me to your blogroll! I think the comparison to "Rent" is a good one. Onstage seating seems to be a new trend - I've heard of a few other shows doing it. But I agree - it would make me a little uncomfortable!

Sandy said...

Hi Esther,
Thanks so much for stopping by. Love your blog and look forward to reading through more of your reviews. I'm jealous, you have seen everything. Obviously that was my first time seeing onstage seating so I thought it was unique. I'd say I don't think I'd care for it either but my favorite seat was front row, center, at Les Mis at PPAC a few years ago which I got through a lottery. Thought I had died and gone to theater heaven. Didn't know where to look first...the stage or the orchestra. Will never forget THAT show!


Blog Design By Lindsey Joy Design © All Rights Reserved.