Posted in Theatre

Critically Thinking- Spring Awakening and Sex in Art

I have never been a fan of the popular musical Spring Awakening.


Granted, the recent Deaf West Broadway production had a fascinating angle and I was curious to catch it. As a whole, though, am I missing something?

Let’s leave the subject matter out of it for a second: strictly music and lyric-wise, Spring Awakening is a fairly mediocre piece. Unless I’m really dense, which is entirely possible…the lyrics are a bit nonsensical. “My Junk” is all over the place, while words like “oh, I’m gonna be your bruise” feel very forced. Not to mention the Act 1 finale is literally made up of 10 words repeated over and over. How this score managed to beat Grey Gardens for the Tony that year is beyond me.

Look, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the internal rhymes and insightful syntax of Sondheim. And various styles speak to everyone differently. Who am I to judge what is great art?

Okay, moving onto the book and characterization. I get it; Spring Awakening is about generation gaps and emotional repression and the struggles of growing up. But I blame the OBP’s marketing team for people thinking that its content is “teenagers having sex.” Because that’s what they emphasize in like half the promotional material. As we all know, sex sells. Perhaps if more emphasis had been placed on the show’s underlying themes, folks like me wouldn’t make that assumption.

But at the same time, I’m brought to my other point. I almost feel as though the direction of the piece (or at least the OBP) decided to milk those teenagers having sex. Did we really need to see Lea Michele’s bare chest, Jonathan Groff’s ass, or Hanschen’s “self-loving” out in the open to understand the action and its implications? It appears to be gratuity for the sake of gratuitousness. Basically: if you want to tell a meaningful, compelling story, focus on that and not how graphic you can get onstage.

Well, that’s all I can think of right now. Feel free to challenge me on any of my opinions here. In conclusion, though, I want to add that I don’t think the entirety of Spring Awakening is a lost cause. There’s some good stuff to work with here- I just don’t think it was executed correctly. As occurs frequently to artists when they try to create a game-changer. Ain’t life a bitch?

Posted in Personals

Bulletin: Why stay silent?

Ladies and gentlemen, you know as well as I do that I want young people to get involved in the arts. That’s why Puccini’s Chronicles exists- as stated in our code of honor, it strives to promote visual and performing arts at all levels. But I cannot fairly do this unless I believe the arts community to be a safe and supportive one for all who choose to be part of it.

On the heels of the news flash I read today, I’m not going to go into much detail; I won’t even be naming names. But I will say that if you plan to attend a performance of a long-running Broadway show in the near future, select carefully. Because if you pick the wrong one, you may in fact be perpetuating an instance in which the arts world was NOT a safe place for one of its most vulnerable members. Do your own research if you must find out what happened; I believe in forgiveness, which is why I’m keeping things general here. But I also believe in exercising caution- and remembering that we as artists have a responsibility to look out for our colleagues, especially in compromising situations.