See Spring Awakening Instead of Dragging Yourself To Watch Twilight (Again)

by |
12/12/2008 2:00 PM |

Our Greatest Depression was well under way at the end of October, when the producers of the Tony-award winning expressionistic musical Spring Awakening announced the show would close on January 18th, after nearly 900 performances. An undeserving victim of shiteconomics, Spring Awakening captivated fringe theater-goers with its tightly-wound, youthful cast and a rock score by pop songwriter Duncan Sheik. The delicious hooks are built for Top 40 radio, but the stomp-and-seduce-me choreography was designed by Bill T. Jones instead of Wade Robson. After all, this is Broadway, not the Twilight soundtrack.

Alternating the structure of a live concert with Frank Wedekind’s controversial 19th century German play, Spring Awakening came-of-age in 2006, at just the right moment, around the same time that High School Musical – a meta-Grease-style TV movie about kids auditioning for a musical – had swept away the adolescent set. Yet unlike the squeaky-clean Disney film, Spring Awakening is about all the things that the HSM neutered from the start: sex, repression, its repercussions, and what kids do behind closed doors, in hay bales, with their pants down around their ankles and their skirts hiked up to their hips. We’re talking girls and boys, and boys and boys, where God-fearing provincialism gets pushed into the background and passion takes over.

The L’s own Patricia Milder called Spring Awakening‘s original
production
"tightly refined" and "a visceral experience that certainly
lives up to the hype." One of
the musical’s biggest draws is its emorific compositions: twenty-some power
ballads and pop songs, propelled forward by Steven Sater’s
hot-blooded lyrics. This August, the play received a fresh infusion of
talent with its new class-cast, led by by Hunter Parrish (Weeds) as the
clever rebel Melchinor and Alexandra Socha as his curious yet pious girlfriend Wendla. Much has been made of the addition of Parrish — this is not a gratuitious actor-cameo, his pipes are real and so is the way he plays Melchinor, with an innocent sexiness that meshes perfectly with Socha’s angelic seductions. This marked Parrish’s first turn on Broadway – he hadn’t been on stage in six years, and admitted to New
York Magazine
‘s Vulture he was so nervous during auditions he kept up a
running text conversation with Weeds co-star Mary-Louise Parker, who
last returned to Broadway in Dead Man’s Cell Phone. (She burst into
tears in Parrish’s dressing room after seeing his debut last summer.)

It’s interesting to note that Parrish himself was up for the role of HSM
heartthrob Troy Bolton – he lost it to Zac Efron, who has gone on to
star in the franchise’s sequels and is now seeking to re-brand himself
as something other than a Disney drone. Efron’s grinning mug is already
plastered on posters in countless 13-year-old’s bedrooms and has awhile to wait for his mouse
contract to run out. Parrish, however, who was raised a liberal
Christian in Texas, told the Boston Globe he’s already at work on a
solo album
(he grew up singing in church!) that he describes as fitting
into the "rock-acoustic-chill-coffeehouse genre. “His expensive
tenor, which was good enough to give us goosebumps during last night’s
show, makes this seem less icky than it sounds, and will likely grip
more than a few indie hearts before Efron can quite complete his Justin
Timbification. If Zooey can do it, he has a real shot.