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YOUNG LOVER: Christy Altomare and Jake Epstein star in the touring company for 'Spring Awakening.'

'Spring' In Fall

Broadway San Jose presents the Tony-winning 'Spring Awakening'

By Emily Grube

IN 1917, the play Spring Awakening, by German writer Frank Wedekind, played in New York City, only to be censored and banned over the next 89 years. The rock musical that opened off-Broadway in 2006 and was loosely adapted from the play received a much better reception. Spring Awakening was the winner of eight Tony Awards, including best musical, in 2007. The Broadway run ended in January 2008, and the national tour is set to hit the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 28 for a five-day run.

Spring Awakening tells the story of several students coming of age in a sexually repressed, 1891 Germany. The parents and teachers refuse to enlighten the children about their changing bodies and urges. That leaves the students confused and angry, grasping with both hands in the dark only to find a microphone. "Rock music expresses anguish and longing, passion and joys," says Steven Sater the Tony Award–winning writer of the musical's book and lyrics. "[Having rock music] altered the whole feeling of the play." The characters burst into songs such as "The Bitch of Living" and "Touch Me" to show "the internal world of the teens." As a unique touch, the actors are given microphones to hold onstage as they sing. This was done to remind the audience of when they stood in their bedroom and held a hairbrush as they sang. "Everyone has been a rock star in their own bedroom," notes Sater.

The touring cast of mostly recent high school graduates, college students and new college graduates "gives the show a fresh, new energy. They believe in the show because it's what they are going through." Two of the Broadway cast members who believed in the show reached worldwide fame: John Gallagher Jr. won a Tony Award for his performance, and Lea Michele went on to star in FOX's hit new series Glee. "These young people just stand out there and give you their hearts," says Sater.

The musical touches on "the hope and the strength, the darkness and the light" in self-discovery. In fact, the importance of the subject matter led Planned Parenthood to invite Sater to become a member of their organization. "This play opens up real dialogue between generations because, whatever your age, you watch from the perspective of the young. And [the play] touches the heart so profoundly to remember that time of naughty pleasure."

SPRING AWAKENING, presented by Broadway San Jose, plays Oct. 28 at 7:30pm, Oct. 29 at 2 and 7:30pm, Oct. 30 at 8pm, Oct. 31 at 2 and 8pm and Nov. 1 at 1 and 6pm at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose. Tickets are $20–$75. (408.792.4111)

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