Spring Awakening

The University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and Theatre Latte Da's co-production of Spring Awakening promises to be a wild ride, both for the company of 20 actors drawn from the professional and student ranks, and for the audiences who travel to campus to see the show on the Rarig Center's Stoll Thrust stage. "This piece breaks rules. It makes us ask, 'What does the singing mean, and what does the movement mean? What is real about it, and what is period about it?'" says director Peter Rothstein. "It doesn't just break the fourth wall, it penetrates it in a confrontational way." The Broadway and touring hit deals with youth trying to break out of the tight confines of their conservative, 19th-century community. Along the way, the play delves into teen sex, gay students, a botched abortion, and suicide. So, it's not a Sunday walk in the park. The company, made up of seven professional and 13 student actors, have worked to mine Steven Sater's dense lyrics for all the impact they can find. Meanwhile, Duncan Sheik's score embraces the raw energy of rock 'n' roll and punk, but also explores the wide breadth that exists in the style. It makes for a heady brew of a show that threatens to run off the rails at any moment, and that sense of danger is exactly what Rothstein wants, even if it makes the traditional Latte Da audience a bit uncomfortable. Still, "while it is confrontational and tragic, it is also sexy. It practices what it preaches. It is embracing the sexuality, so it is passionate and tender and sweet; brutal, unjust, ugly, and raw. It also embraces the awkwardness of the age," he says. (Photo by Tom Sandelands Photography)
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 12. Continues through May 6, 2012

 
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