Sunday, February 25, 2007

Spring Awakening

Photo: Sara Krulwich

Call me a late bloomer, I guess (pun intended), but I finally saw Spring Awakening. It hasn't been overhyped, nor has it been oversexed. Just be thankful for Duncan Sheik's vibrant rock score (often lacking for Broadway musicals), as the text (adapted by Steven Sater from Frank Wedekind's original German play) is awfully predictable. Michael Mayer makes beautiful pictures out of even the obvious, and the two love scenes--the maturation of "The Word of Your Body" and Act I consummation of "I Believe"--are tremendously staged. The set is simplistic but evolves: just like the choreography from Bill T. Jones, which is as much expressive modern dance as an frenetic series of foot-stomping, head-banging rock moves. Jonathan Groff deserves to beat Raul Esparza for the Tony; that he can go from the accusatory falsetto of "Left Behind" to the jagged cliffs of "Totally Fucked" in a span of five minutes shows a remarkable range, especially for someone so young. The only thing I'm not completely sold on is the choice to perform the play out in the open, with some audience members sitting onstage with the cast, with microphones popping out of their period costumes, and background blackboards littered with liner notes for the show. I get that they want to relate this show to the audience, but trust me: the performance is affecting enough all on its own.

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