GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

June 20, 2013

Teen taboos: Rock musical tackles issues of growing up, sex

Gloucester Stage kicks off the 2013 season with the eight-time Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening,” about the complexities of growing up, which occur among every generation. The show opens tonight and runs through July 14.

The 21st century rock musical is based on a controversial 19th century expressionist play of the same name by Frank Wedekind. The 1891 play was about the trials, tribulations, and taboos of the teen years as adolescents experience the awakening of their sexuality.

The modern work is by Steven Sater, who wrote the book and lyrics, and with music and orchestrations by Duncan Sheik, a Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter. Their energetic recreation of the work for the Broadway stage earned eight Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical, Best Book of A Musical, Best Original Score and Best Choreography.

“We are committed to presenting a musical every year and in choosing this piece, we wanted to pick a show that would be appealing to all generations,” said director Eric Engel, who is also the Gloucester Stage artistic director. “This piece is universal, relevant and exciting. The show has a virtual cult following among young people and it appeals to young.”

However, Engel noted that this is not a show for children because it deals with adult themes, although it would be appropriate for those approaching or who are in their adolescent years.

“It is a bold contemporary piece of theater,” said Engel, who has directed more than 75 productions. “This work shows how the issues of adolescents over the ages remain the same.”

He explained that the creators of the modern work modified the story as a modern musical, with the story set in Germany in the 1890s while the songs speak to today’s language.

A synopsis describes the work as one that “traces the sexual awakening of several youths in an atmosphere of repression. Their journey from adolescence to adulthood is explored with poignancy and passion.”

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