They may call it a “rock-punk musical,” but we know what Spring Awakening really is: It’s an emo musical.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m an emo fan from way back, and Round House’s production, going on now until Feb. 23, brings on the thrashing, chair-throwing, and unnatural hair colors for an angsty two hours of teenage lust and misery. Based on a play from (and set in) 19th century Germany, Spring Awakening — with music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater and directed here by Alan Paul — concerns a group of youths done all wrong by the adults in their lives (Tonya Beckman and Bobby Smith are splendid as the various non-teenagers). A generous pile of anachronisms backed by electric guitar, the show is too specific in its mood and theme to “have something for everyone,” but what it does have is great. Pass me the eyeliner.
“Angst,” fittingly, is a German word, and Spring Awakening puts its Deutsche gaggle of pretty young things through the wringer. Expulsion, domestic violence, unintended pregnancy, suicide … the good news is the audience has way more fun than the characters.
The cast is aces all around, led by Evan Daves’s Melchior and Cristina Sastre’s Wendla as something-crossed lovers discovering light BDSM and heavy rain on the Bavarian hillsides. There are too many to mention them all — assume they’re all good — but Sean Watkinson will break your heart as the imploding Moritz, before Jane Bernhard’s Ilse (and her soprano) put it back together.
Adam Rigg’s set has a well-calibrated emotional palate, Sarah Cubbage’s costumes tell their own story, and everyone involved with the music deserves a bow. The seven-person band makes a sound as round and full as a 17-person one.
There are, it must be said, at least a scene or two that go on longer than they need to. And not every song is knocked as thoroughly out of the park as “Touch Me” or “Those You’ve Known,” but those two are the best versions I’ve heard.
Sexual confusion, academic pressure, unreliable authority figures — thank goodness kids don’t to deal with these problems any more, amirite?