The buzz is strong with this one. Children’s Musical Theaterworks establishes their CMT @The Underground imprint with this rock-meets-19th-Century-Germany production of the smash musical about “young people doing young people things,” as someone over the age of 50 once said to me.
In fact, it is based on a 19th Century German play that has gone through years of banishment from stages for its frank depiction of the sexual and societal awakening of youth. I could bore you with a lot of mumbo jumbo about how such movements in Germany swung wildly from oppressive to radically hysterical throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and how that sort of hysteria fed directly into Nazism, but I won’t. (See what I did there?)
No, Spring Awakening truly is a work of art intended to allow emerging artists to gain expressiveness, maturity, and passion while turning up the threshold of their performance skills. It is also intended to allow emerging audiences to have something that speaks directly to them.
The cast of Spring Awakening here in Fresno has routinely promised us a “mind-blowing experience,” “like nothing I’ve ever seen” – which is something that I always find amusing. You see, at almost 40 years old, I’m not Spring Awakening‘s target audience. I hear a bunch of white kids whine about how hard their lives are and I mostly want to smack them. Been there, done that, bought the cynicism.
You see, I rather like that I’m no longer in that place. During every step of my life, I’ve always looked forward to being five years older. Since I was a teenager I’ve been crushed, broken, patched together, and reshaped in a thousand different ways that I actually like. So, do I really need to go back there? Does Spring Awakening have anything to say to ME?
Because, you know. . . it is all about me.
Or not, as I reminded myself this morning.
Young people often fall into the trap of believing that they have invented whatever they’re passionate about: sex, swearing, freedom, individuality, in-your-face art, over-the-top philosophy. . . My boyfriend’s favorite motto at the age of twenty was “FUCK.SHIT.UP” (1988). HIS father was a “TURN ON. TUNE IN. DROP OUT” guy (1967) who had the first artist’s espresso house in the Valley (Cafe Midi, beginning around 1965) in the earliest years of the Tower District. The people before us have nearly always seen some version of what we’re discovering now. But at some point we move past those early anger years and move into an entirely different kind of struggle. So, on some level, Spring Awakening is not for the likes of me.
But on the other hand, there is A LOT to be said for supporting young artists as they explore this new “BLOW.THEIR.MINDS” world, isn’t there?
As I was considering how the experience of performing Spring Awakening must be affecting these young, passionate artists, I had a sudden flashback to the first piece of chamber theater I did in college. It was on date rape and the emotional fallout it had on young women. It blew my mind. I thought about the first time I stage managed a production of Extremities and had to apply make-up night after night to the actress’s bruises, which were on nearly every piece of her body, because of the extreme level of commitment she brought to the role of an assault survivor. I thought of sitting in the audience at the National Theater in London and watching Judi Dench sing “Send in the Clowns” on one night and watching Fiona Shaw play Richard II on the next. I was 20, 22, and 23 years of age when my mind was blown by those experiences. And those experiences did more than nearly any other to shape my artistic sensibilities for the next two decades.
So, yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And now it is THEIR time to be there, to do that. And I’m looking forward to enjoying every minute of their discovery. So should you.
WINNER of 8 Tony Awards, including BEST MUSICAL, this tale of adolescence runs in Fresno from June 29-July 7, 2012. Directed by Skyler Gray and featuring a score by Grammy-Nominated Songwriter Duncan Sheik and Book and Lyrics by Tony-Award Winner Steven Sater.This production will feature a live band under the direction of Anthony Taylor. Contains mature language and subject matter.
June 29 @ 7:30pm*
June 30 @ 2:00pm
June 30 @ 7:30pm
July 1 @ 7:30pm
July 5 @ 7:30pm
July 6 @ 7:30pm
July 7 @ 2:00pm
July 7 @ 7:30pm
Where: The Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium
2425 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93721
Visit http://tickets.cmtworks.com/ or call (866) 973-9610 for tickets.
Please note that this production features limited onstage seating in addition to the reserved house seating.
Please visit the website for more information on this production: