Teens struggle with adolescent journey in 'Spring Awakening' - July 19-20

Teens struggle with adolescent journey in 'Spring Awakening' - July 19-20

July 18th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

Moritz, left, played by Normand Caissie, makes a point to Melchior, portrayed by Damon Gillespie, in Closed Door Entertainment's "Spring Awakening."

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: "Spring Awakening"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 19-20

Where: Memorial Auditorium, Community Theatre, 399 McCallie Ave.

Admission: $16-$20 (plus fees)

Phone: 642-8497

Website: www.chattanoogaonstage.com

The journey from adolescence to adulthood is a story as old as the ages, but an eight-time, Tony Award-winning rock musical on the subject will make its Chattanooga premiere at Memorial Auditorium's Community Theatre this weekend.

"Spring Awakening," based on a late 19th-century German story by Frank Wedekind but shot through with rock music by Duncan Sheik, will be offered by Closed Door Entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, July 19-20.

Grace Kling, marketing manager for the local production company and the female lead in the show, says the play has a dual appeal to older audiences who may have studied the story in high school and to younger audiences who prefer the style of music.

"It's not just for young people," she says. "I think 'Spring Awakening' is going to be one of those cult favorites. There's a subject in it for everyone, and we're happy to be the first to bring it here."

The subjects include abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide -- issues adolescents may deal with -- so the play is suggested for mature audiences.

"We've not changed any of the content," Kling says.

However, she says the original Broadway production contained nudity, dropped in later versions, which will not be a part of the local show.

The crux of the story -- as relevant today as it was in the late 19th century -- is that parents don't give their children enough information during their adolescence, says Kling.

"Kids have to figure things out themselves," she says, "and that's not always the best option."

Indeed, the mother of Kling's character, Wendla, grazes over just such a talk in her first scene, she says, "and that sets the tone for the whole show."

Because the characters haven't been given all the information, she says, there are repercussions.

"I fell in love with the show in middle school," Kling says. "It's the role of a lifetime."

Entertainment Weekly described the music in the production as "the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade (the 2000s)."

Kling says the songs are similar to Sheik's 1996 hit "Barely Breathing."

"It has that flavor -- that indie rock, late 1990s feel," she says. "[The score] is hard rock, but there are some sweet, acoustic numbers. There's a juxtaposition that's really nice."

Mike Lees is the musical director for "Spring Awakening," and J.C. Smith is the stage director.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.