Spring Awakening to shake up the Black Box

The rock musical Spring Awakening will be presented by St. Thomas University musical theatre students Feb. 18 to 21 in The Black Box Theatre.

Initially deemed too  controversial for the audiences of the 1900s, Spring Awakening deals with teenagers learning to understand and express their sexuality. The eight-time Tony Award winning musical is based on the nineteenth century German play, Spring Awakening, by Frank Wedekind.

“This musical is definitely a challenge because of the content and message it has,” says fourth year student Katelyn Goodwin.

Goodwin plays the lead female role of Wendla Bergmann, a young girl questioning her sexuality in a world that is reluctant to answer her.

“There a lot of things that we changed from the original production,” says Goodwin. “Making sure the actors as well as the audience would be comfortable with what was happening.”

The musical explores themes not only of sexuality, but also of suicide, stress at school and parental pressure. The messages that were brought forward in the original play are transferable to audiences of any generation, making Spring Awakening a timeless classic.

“It’s an interesting juxtaposition of the dress and the dialogue being set in the 1890s,” says Dawn Sadoway, director of the musical and a St. Thomas University professor.

“As soon as we hit the rock songs, it becomes quite modern and it shoots us right into the 21st century.”

Despite its previous successes, the St. Thomas cast and crew will not completely re-enact the 2006 musical. They have taken the artistic liberty to make their version unique not only to soften the more R-rated scenes, but also to work on their creative abilities as actors and writers.

“Our goal is not to shock for the sake of shocking, our goal is to tell the story like it is,” says Sadoway.

The cast is made up of St. Thomas’s learning community or a group of students from both musical theatre performance, voice and movement classes who are taught together, to create an open space to develop their trades. The learning community meets for six hours a week.

“You should expect a fast paced story, with strong vocals,” says Sadoway. “I think audiences are going to walk away impressed with the courage and ability of these young actors.”

All shows run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There are two shows on Saturday, a matinee and regular showing.

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