Monday, January 5, 2009

One New Year's resolution down

Well, I've already accomplished one New Year's resolution - finally seeing the musical "Spring Awakening," which came to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center during the holidays. I saw the show Saturday. And believe me, such a treat has been a long time coming for me. I've been trying to see this show for about two years!

I first caught wind of "Spring Awakening" in the summer of 2006 when I was working at a paper in Hilton Head, SC. I was interviewing Duncan Sheik, famously known for the chart-topping hit "Barely Breathing." Sheik spent part of his youth on the island and still had family ties there. So while vacationing with the family, he decided to throw a small concert at one of the local restaurants in town. The concert, by the way, was fabulous. During our phone interview, which was promoting said concert, he mentioned his excitement for the 1891 Frank Wedekind play-turned-musical of "Spring Awakening" - a coming-of-age story of German teens struggling with the many trials of adolescence and puberty. Sheik was the brains behind composing the music.

Naturally, as a fan, I wanted see the show. To hear him describe the convergence of 19th century drama (which, actually, for a show like this could easily fit into 2009) and 21st century rock made it even more intriguing. So a year later, in the fall of 2007, I was hoping one of my best friends in New York would surprise me with tickets to see the show during my visit. But she couldn't snag any decent seats - and student rush tickets (she's a graduate student at NYU) were constantly sold out for the show. Maybe next time, she said.

So finally, after a couple other unsuccessful attempts, I was delighted to finally see this Tony Award-winning musical. The music was awesome, the setting was eye-catching, the staging was beautifully divine and the story - though tragic at times - was brilliant. With the teenage story line, it was like watching the new 90210, only 1,000 times better with outstanding acting and lots of inner dialog set to music, which is probably why it has attracted many young fans. Yes, there was a scene or two I could have done without due to my personal preferences, but even those scenes were performed dramatically well. During the show, I could help but think that Wedekind was before his time with a play that deals with teen sex, sexual abuse, suicide and more. No wonder his book was banned back in the 19th century.

If this show comes around again to the Tampa area, be sure to see it as it won't be playing on Broadway anymore in a couple weeks. It's a show unlike any other.

- January Holmes

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