REVIEW: MusicalFare’s Spring Awakening brings new twist to adolescent life

MusicalFare’s production of Spring Awakening is a must-see show that brings a heat wave to a city usually buried in snow.

REVIEW: MusicalFare’s Spring Awakening brings new twist to adolescent life

Edwin J. Viera, Opinion Editor

Everyone remembers that moment in their life when their parents come up to them to have, “the talk,” meaning that moment when a kid learns about why mommy and daddy were lying on top of each other. Discussing sex with a parent is one of the more awkward parts of life, because of the misinformation we are given. However, learning about sex from experience is something that we have come to find may or may not work as well. One musical captures the essence of being that age and learning about sex from the view of adults and kids.

Running at Shea’s 710 theatre from March 8 to March 18, MusicalFare’s production of Spring Awakening is bringing theatergoers back to that point of life when they weren’t just curious about sex but also about the world around them.

Set in Germany during 1891, this charming musical comedy deals with a group of young men and women learning about relationships and sexual liberation from one another. The story opens on our heroine, Wendla Bergmann, who according to her mother is in bloom, asking her mother how babies are born… an instantly awkward moment for her mother, but is hilarious for the audience.

Meanwhile, the boys begin their adventure with Mortiz, confiding in his friend, Melchior Gabor, the male protagonist, about how he is kept up at night having erotic dreams and not knowing how to feel about them. Melchior, being a radical with no inhibitions about explaining sex among other things about women to his friend, with some explicit drawings. One of the subplots is teacher’s pet Hänschen and fellow student Ernst falling in love despite the chaos going on around them.

Throughout the musical, drama and comedy unfold from the simple events above but delve into the unknown parts of a person’s life. Later in the musical, one of Wendla’s friends, Martha, confesses to being beaten by her father and her sister Ilse is molested by him while their mother does nothing. Wendla and her friends all want to help Martha and Ilse by reporting what’s going on to someone.

Upon learning about the beatings that Martha receives, Wendla becomes enticed to find out what it’s like to be beaten, never having been hit herself. She pleads with Melchior to beat her with a switch she has found in a meadow. This immediately comes back to hurt her as Melchior goes too far, leading him to degrade her and run from her out of shame.

This musical shows the ignorance of certain education systems. Moritz is scared that he will fail his midterm exams and passes, only for the scheming teachers and headmaster, Frau Knuppeldick and Herr Knochenbruch to purposefully fail him because they can only promote 60 students to the next class. Moritz’s cruel father hits him and is furious about how this will reflect upon Moritz’s parents in social situations.

Moritz stumbles through much of the play wondering what he will do since he has no chance of advancement in school. He falls into depression and is unable to express his feelings about it to anyone. Ilse attempts to help him by going for a walk and possibly playing a game they did during their childhood. Instead, he insists he must do work to finish the current semester and scares Ilse away.

After this encounter he realizes that he should have said yes to Ilse’s request, he then pulls a gun out of his pocket and aims it under his chin. The next scene is of his friends placing flowers on his coffin and his father breaking down in tears for not understanding the circumstances behind Moritz’s failure.

Watching this part of the play makes people think of the Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society, when the character, Neil, commits suicide after not being able to find the courage to confront his father about letting Neil be who he wants to.

In trying to sort out the reason behind Moritz’s death, Frau Knuppeldick and Herr Knochenbruch, discover the essay Melchior wrote for Mortiz about sex, aptly names The Art of Sleeping With, which includes the intricate drawings of the female anatomy. Melchior is promptly expelled for writing it and his parents send him to a reformatory to curb the liberal ideas he has embraced.

As he is in the reformatory, he learns about Wendla being pregnant after they give into their feelings and sleep together. However, after a visit from a doctor, Wendla’s mother figures out this out and is shocked. Frau Bergmann viciously slaps Wendla for having sex before marriage, but soon finds out the child is Melchior’s.

Frau Bergmann considers an alternative to the shame that comes with being pregnant and unmarried, having Wendla undergo “an experimental surgery” that would get rid of the child. In that time, having an abortion was a risk for it could kill the woman and the child.

Melchior sends Wendla a letter attempting to meet with her to escape somewhere and be together. As he stumbles into a churchyard, he finds that a new grave has been made in the same area as Moritz’s. He discovers that it’s Wendla’s tombstone, citing that she died of anemia.

In the end, the cast sings about the coming of summer and the sadness they are going through the seasons.

The performance was a work of sheer brilliance and the cast earned the standing ovation the audience gave them. All in all, a perfect eveningof theatre.

The musical has just the right tone to match the angst and hormonal feelings these characters go through. Combining punk rock with softer melodies, the music captures theatergoers and brings them into the story. Also, the choreography of the play brings out just how it really felt to think you know best and that adults are getting in the way. The set used is minimal and not as extravagant as this play would need, but it serves a better purpose than an elaborate set would.

During the play, I slowly realized that the men were not portrayed as machismo-driven men but cared about the women in their lives. This musical is diligent in showing how mutual love and respect factors into both halves of a relationship.

MusicalFare’s production of Spring Awakening is a must-see show that brings a heat wave to a city usually buried in snow.