SCT Presents a Modern Musical Twist on a Classic Expressionist Play

Apr 24, 2015

An exciting, Tony-winning modern-musical take on Frank Wedekind's 1891 expressionist play is presented by Springfield Contemporary Theatre.
Credit (Poster design courtesy Springfield Contemporary Theatre)

Winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, "Spring Awakening" by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik is a rock musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind's 1891 expressionist play about the trials, the tribulations and the exhilaration of the teen years. Exploring the journey from adolescence to adulthood with poignancy and passion, this landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll that has exhilarated audiences across the nation like no other musical in years.  Springfield Contemporary Theatre offers the Springfield area premiere of this groundbreaking show now through May 17.

SCT Managing Artistic Director Rick Dines directs this production. He notes that Wedekind's original play took 15 years to get produced--"and even then it was highly censored and highly controversial." It was banned eventually.  Finally it was produced in the United States another ten years later (in 1917)--again in a heavily-censored version.  It wasn't seen in an uncensored English-language production until ca.1970 in London. Dines feels "it's a very interesting play, and what Sater and Sheik have done is create a dynamic adaptation into a musical.  The 'book' scenes are pretty true to the original Wedekind play... but then as emotions are heightened and we go into the musical numbers, they are completely internal (to the characters), into what they're feeling.  That is done through the vocabulary of contemporary music--and a bit more contemporary vernacular. So it's an interesting mix.  It sounds like a horrible idea (for a show)... and it's one of the most brilliant, beautiful, poetic shows I've ever worked on!"

Actually, working on Sater and Sheik's musical adaptation has been a different experience for everyone involved.  SCT Music Director Alex Huff says, "Most shows I've done are very piano-heavy, but this one is very guitar-heavy"--and that's taken some getting used to.

The show focuses on three young people: Melchior, who's very headstrong, fighting against authority; Wendla, a young woman Melchior has known since childhood, but they've just recently reconnected; and Melchior's friend Moritz, who Dines says "has just hit that awkward age where he's just not jelling with the system."  In all there are 13 cast members: 11 portraying the students; and two other actors, Jeff Carney and Judy Luxton, who each play multiple adult roles. 

This production contains adult language, subject matter and partial nudity, but as Rick Dines says,  it still depicts "what teenagers go through. It's what they were going through in 1891, and it's what teenagers are still going through in 2015!"

Josh Inman choreographed the production. It opens Friday April 24th at 7:30pm at SCT Center Stage in Wilhoit Plaza on the corner of Pershing and Robberson downtown.  The show will run Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm through May 17.  For more information call 831-8001 or visit www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org.