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Author: Pranathi Durgempudi

‘Spring Awakening’ provides catharsis for teenage rebellion with electrifying rock music

From March 6-15, iconic R-rated rock musical “Spring Awakening” will take the stage in the University Theatre. Cecilia J. Pang will direct a cast of CU Theatre & Dance’s talented student performers in bringing this award-winning musical to CU. Tickets start at $24.

With the original musical garnering eight Tony awards and legions of fans, CU’s production of “Spring Awakening” will dive into the heartbreaking coming-of-age story of sex, sexuality and teenage rebellion.

The original off-Broadway production dazzled audiences with Duncan Sheik’s rock score. Set in the repressed society of 1890s Germany, the seemingly dichotomous alternative rock music electrifies the perilous landscape of growing up for the young teenage characters.

“This is an interesting rock score since it employs both electric and acoustic instruments,” music director of the CU production David Nehls explains. “Strings like the violin and cello are especially highlighted which gives it a very earthy and classical feel which beautifully suits the storytelling.”

With an intimate ensemble cast, the raw messages in the score will take centerstage.

“Music has always been a great communication device when dealing with tough subjects. It rings true in any opera to the world of jazz in songs like ‘Strange Fruit’ by Billie Holiday, for example,” Nehls says. “Classic music theatre has always managed to go into dark places using the songs to reflect the story: ‘Sweeney Todd’ comes to mind as does ‘King And I’. But its use in ‘Spring Awakening’ is so great because it becomes very clear in the music what the emotional stakes are for these characters.”

The emotional turmoil experienced by the characters persists as a timeless and vital conversation point today. “It is such a relevant story that shows we don’t change much through the years,” Nehls details. “People struggle with issues today that have been around forever. The fact that adults don’t truly hear their children sometimes is still an issue now and always will be.”

In order to convey such universal adversities, the music of “Spring Awakening” takes on a role of catharsis. “The anachronistic vibe is perfect for setting the mood and energy for teenagers going through problems in the story that all teenagers go through no matter what period,” Nehls says.

There’s only one thing he wants audiences to remember as they leave the theatre. “The message is to listen! Pay attention when someone is in pain.”

Tickets for “Spring Awakening” start at $24. Purchase them at cupresents.org, by phone at 303-492-8008 or in person at the box office (972 Broadway) Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.