…Keegan Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening also has an ideal demographic group: any parent with a teenager who will sit through a musical. The family in front of me included a kid wearing a “Stags Lacrosse” T-shirt who didn’t seem entirely comfortable watching an onstage love scene with mom and dad.
Spring Awakening is more than theatrical sex-ed, but Keegan’s production will be best appreciated by theatergoers who didn’t see the Broadway tour at its Kennedy Center stop or the New York cast that swept the 2007 Tony Awards. When the rock musical about repressed teens living in late 19th-century Germany opened, it starred Lea Michele, before she was an Oscar de la Renta vamptress in Glee, and Jonathan Groff, then fresh off his parents’ Paradise, Pa., horse farm.
The area college students that Keegan recruited also bring convincing innocence to their roles as kids who think babies come from storks and wet dreams are visits from angels. Directors Mark A. and Susan Marie Rhea have done a particularly good job with the blocking and design. A raised palate at the center of the stage functions alternatively as a hayloft and a graveyard, while the second-story platform is well-used to keep the episodic show moving.
Paul Scanlan was appropriately unhinged as Moritz singing “Don’t Do Sadness,” and the ensemble vocals closed strong with “Those You’ve Known.”
Spring Awakening is based on a 1891 German play of the same name. Even in 1917, that play’s New York premiere was considered pornographic. Steven Sater, who wrote the musical’s book, has the teens speaking in an old-fashioned tongue but singing like contemporary teens. Ever since Keegan announced it had the rights to Spring Awakening, theatergoers in the know had wondered if the local troupe could pull it off. So in answer to that most crucial question about a certain profane anthem: No, they did not fuck up “Totally Fucked.”
They totally rocked it.