News Column

Teen taboos

June 20, 2013


June 20--Gloucester Stage kicks off the 2013 season with the eight-time Tony Award-winning musical "Spring Awakening," about the complexities of growing up, which occur among every generation. The show opens tonight and runs through July 14.

The 21st century rock musical is based on a controversial 19th century expressionist play of the same name by Frank Wedekind. The 1891 play was about the trials, tribulations, and taboos of the teen years as adolescents experience the awakening of their sexuality.

The modern work is by Steven Sater, who wrote the book and lyrics, and with music and orchestrations by Duncan Sheik, a Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter. Their energetic recreation of the work for the Broadway stage earned eight Tony Awards in 2007, including Best Musical, Best Book of A Musical, Best Original Score and Best Choreography.

"We are committed to presenting a musical every year and in choosing this piece, we wanted to pick a show that would be appealing to all generations," said director Eric Engel, who is also the Gloucester Stage artistic director. "This piece is universal, relevant and exciting. The show has a virtual cult following among young people and it appeals to young."

However, Engel noted that this is not a show for children because it deals with adult themes, although it would be appropriate for those approaching or who are in their adolescent years.

"It is a bold contemporary piece of theater," said Engel, who has directed more than 75 productions. "This work shows how the issues of adolescents over the ages remain the same."

He explained that the creators of the modern work modified the story as a modern musical, with the story set in Germany in the 1890s while the songs speak to today's language.

A synopsis describes the work as one that "traces the sexual awakening of several youths in an atmosphere of repression. Their journey from adolescence to adulthood is explored with poignancy and passion."

The musical direction is by Catherine Stornetta and choreography by Jodi Leigh Allen. The cast of 13 includes three Gloucester Stage veterans: Melody Madarasz of 2012's "Crimes of the Heart," Paul Farwell of 2012's "Carnival" and Amelia Broome of 2005's "My Old Lady."

"Spring Awakening" runs tonight through July 14 at Gloucester Stage at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. The schedule includes Saturday matinees at 3 p.m. and Sunday performances at 4 p.m. Tickets are $40 and $35 for senior citizens and students. A limited number of discount tickets are available to Cape Ann residents for all 8 p.m. performances on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Saturday matinee on June 22 is a special Pay-What-You-Can show. Following the 4 p.m. performance on Sunday, June 23, audiences are invited to a free post show discussion with the artists. For reservations or information, call the box office at 978-281-4433 or visit

Gail McCarthy can be reached 978-283-7000 x3445, or


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