by Hanna Bisewski and Michael Meigs
Spring Awakening won eight of the 2007 Tony awards, including that for best musical, and the powerful production opened by the Zach Theatre last Saturday shows you why. This very contemporary musical adaptation of Franz Wedekind's Spring Awakening has played across Europe, and the U.S. national touring company fielded by Broadway Across America visited Bass Hall for a week in October, 2009. Awakening has now settled in to the Wisenhut Stage until November 13 playing an extended Tuesday to Sunday schedule. Zach management clearly expects this one to resound with the Austin public.
The time is the late 19th century and the place is a quietly repressed, sinister bourgeois community in rural Germany. The story is one that encompasses child abuse, sexual ignorance, adolescent suicide and a hushed-up death, all orbiting themes of the sexual awakening of children aged around thirteen. The Zach's production, true to the script and the music, takes these matters head-on, each actor approaching his character's criminal sexuality with a child-like shamelessness and a believable innocence.
The show is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for those offended by stage depictions of sex. Can you laugh at a young man avidly masturbating on the toilet while reading a penny-dreadful novel? What would you think of some adolescent sado-masochism with a switch? An intense, angry song by two girls about fathers who fondle them at bedtime or even do more? The first act ends with the tense, lengthy, very hot and fully suggestive seduction of sweet innocent Wendla by her smart, troubled friend Melchior, staged in profile on a high platform as a grim Lutheran pastor preaches below them to the robed choir.Click to read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .