Young Actors’ Theatre’s ‘Spring Awakening’ is a raw musical that is refreshing and relevant

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Any musical that has the word rock attached to it should have one remember rock’s roots—rebellious, provocative, and sometimes sophisticated. Spring Valley based Young Actors’ Theatre’s production of “Spring Awakening,” a rock musical, has those elements with a parental warning to audience members before it even starts. The musical has teeth that bite.

Any musical that has the word rock attached to it should have one remember rock’s roots—rebellious, provocative, and sometimes sophisticated. Spring Valley based Young Actors’ Theatre’s production of “Spring Awakening,” a rock musical, has those elements with a parental warning to audience members before it even starts. The musical has teeth that bite.

Tony and Grammy award winning “Spring Awakening,” book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by pop mastermind Duncan Sheik, is based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 dramatic masterpiece of a 19th-century German expressionist play. It follows the turbulent and troubled waters of a group of teenagers transitioning to adulthood and learning about sex trapped in a duplicitous, hypocritical, and puritanical town. Many the titles of Herr, Frau, and Fraulein are thrown out and remind the setting is in Germany.

Director Perry Lee is to be credited for choosing this bold musical. While one might see more real stage combat in a Shakespearian production, the stage combat here is between the parents, the school the authorities, sex education, and the teens’ growing sensuality and knowledge of sex in a small town. Lee nails all of those theatrical moments with precise, laser-like directing.

Even the titles of the scenes are telling like “My junk,” “The word of your body,” “Totally f—-d,” and “The guilty ones” set the tone for the reveals.

The reveals, the layering, is told beautifully with Perry Lee’s very insightful choreography that have teens moving with anger, sensuality, puzzlement, and, when appropriate, adult rigidity that conveys all the judgement of a jury in the Salem witch hunts—harsh.

Gerardo Flores, as Melchior, hits the perfect balance with his thinking man approach to his own wild destination of what can happen after mating—a baby—and the ramifications of how a female virgin’s family and society deal with a teen pregnancy. Not well in this case.

 Evan Penner, as Moritz, with costuming and transparent acting skills, portrays Moritz’ angst and reaction to harsh authoritarian schoolmasters and controlling parents perfectly.

Wendia played by Katee Drysdale convincing plays and sings the true-to-life situation of young females who are deliberately sheltered from the mechanics of how babies are made with a tragic, just a pawn like outcome.

Brooke Laver, as Ilse, brings the pinnacle of what can happen to a beautiful young teen girl in a leachers’ world who is dealing with an abusive home life to a perfectly staged whirlwind of a performance.

The whole youthful company comprised of Jessica Isaac, Anthony Antoniszyn, Jeremy and Nate Stolp, Raymond Allred, Caleb Williams, Joey Rearic, Ariella Kvasnhy, Olivia Weinstein, Rachel Robinson, Alexa Cohen, Bailee Coleman, Kyle Garcia, Sophie Allred, and Joe Emmenegger are to be applauded for their daring performances in this telling tale of teen sensuality and the varied outcomes it produces.

More scenarios abound in this musical that uses lyrics in a powerful way to show case moods, predicaments, joy, and sorrow better than old school, old Hollywood musicals rarely do.

The set is minimalist with the five-piece band performing on a second story level over a lower level with two spring time trees, dangling trails of Christmas-esque light strings and a box that multi-purposes as a mating bed and coffin.

To experience the bite, visit www.YatSanDiego.org. It runs through Aug. 23. Auditions for what should be a great Halloween comedy, The Addams family, are on Aug. 28.

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