Let's Review: High energy fuels Cygnet Theatre's ‘Spring Awakening’

By Diana Saenger

Let's Review

"Spring Awakening” is a rock musical based on the controversial 1981 German play by Frank Wedekind. The play was banned at that time for controversial content. The rendition unfolding at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town has music by Duncan Shiek with book and lyrics by Steven Sater. Set in late-19th century Germany, Wendla Bergmann (Taylor Aldrich) opens the show with an outstanding rendition of “Mama Who Bore Me.”

Her ire is represented in her actions even if one misses it in the words. Wendla wants to know what a woman has to do to conceive a baby, but mom skirts the issue with silly answers.

At school, the teenage boys are feeling their testosterone. Melchior, played with super power by Dave Thomas Brown, is all about challenging the intolerance of school and society. He doesn’t hesitate to stand up and defend his friend Moritz Stiefel (Charles Evans, Jr.) when the teacher chastises him for misquoting a line.

The cast of seven males and six females all perform marvelously. Their timing is perfect as they become the characters they portray. As with most teens, their attention soon drifts from school to thinking about sex, covering up sex, or angrily trying to conceal their frustrated feelings about sex. The play is also about parents and teachers who play a huge role in how the kids handle their lives during the jarring teen years.

Opening on Broadway in 2006, the play won eight Tony awards including Best Musical, Direction, Book, Score and Featured Actor. While that is apt to bring in playgoers, it’s imperative any potential patrons understand the play still contains the elements that had it banned decades ago. The students take part in or are affected by, rape, abortion, child abuse and suicide. Some of the song titles cannot be printed.

Sean Murray has done a great job in directing this wonderful cast, who even if some of the material they present seems offensive, manage to mesmerize with their talents. This comes about also through the talents of Musical Director Terry O’Donnell, who behind the back wall is conductor and pianist. u

If you go

: “Spring Awakening” runs through April 27 at Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego. Tickets from $39. (619) 337-1525. cygnettheatre.com

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