To be certain, Spring Awakening (aka the Duncan Sheik musical) is an acquired taste and is not for everybody. I personally think it is riveting must-see musical theater for adults…and I do mean adults. And the current tour that has landed at the Fisher Theater through May 9th is simply top-notch.
Wendla (Christy Altomare) and Melchior (Jake Epstein)
For those who have not seen the show before, we’re not talking about the awakening of flowers and blossoms in the springtime here — the show explores frank discussions (and misinformation) amongst teens and their ignorant parents in the late 1800’s about sex in all its forms, and the tragic outcome of misinformation and ignorance gone awry. It’s not for pre-teens, and it certainly isn’t for some teens.
Apparently, it isn’t for some adults either, as some of the ignorant and outlandish comments I heard during intermission and post-show made clearly apparent. I wasn’t aware that some Detroiters were so ignorant themselves, so the show speaks to our time as well as that in which the original play (with a long history of being banned and censored) was written upon which the musical is based. I’ve previously seen the production on Broadway and in East Lansing where I didn’t hear such intermission ignorance, so maybe it should have played the Power Center in Ann Arbor instead of the Fisher Theater in Detroit — none the less, it’s a provocative evening of alternative rock theater.
The terrific cast, lead by Christy Altomare as Wendla and Jake Epstein as Melchior rock the house. The voices in this show are great – and there is some fine, subtle acting from many of the young cast. There is also plenty of very un-subtle acting, just the way you would expect. “The Bitch of Living” near the top of the first act, and “Totally Fucked” in the second act are true ensemble standouts. “The Word of Your Body” is simply lyrical in the hands of Altomare and Epstein.
Highly recommended — but, seriously, leave your young ones and your grandmother at home. And probably leave opinionated Uncle Mike at home as well, since this isn’t a show meant to change his world-view, merely to illustrate the danger of his ignorance. Playing at the Fisher Theater, Detroit, through May 9th. Ticketmaster.com.
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