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'Spring Awakening': What did the critics think?

November 5, 2008 | 11:30 am


One can be excused if he or she is a bit confused by "Spring Awakening." After all, if asked about the story line for the musical, which opened last week at the Ahmanson Theatre, the quick answer is: A bunch of horny teens in late-19th century Germany dance around and sing about sex, sexual repression, sexual obsession, sexual rebellion and other things related to, well, sex. Oh, and it's rather bleak and downbeat.

But "Spring Awakening" is much more than that, right? Surely Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's show, with choreography by Bill T. Jones, didn't win the 2007 best musical Tony Award for nothing.

Let's see what the critics had to say about the Ahmanson production:

"Even if the subject matter seems like water under the bridge to some of you, 'Spring Awakening' is worth seeing for its utterly original production," says Los Angeles Times critic Charles McNulty, as well as "the production is the star, and it's a dazzler."

Bob Verini of Variety says: "Composer Duncan Sheik's ravishing melodies consistently complement Sater's ability to nail an emotion or state of being in a single, stunning lyrical image."

Saying the show isn't for everyone, Paul Hodgins of the Orange County Register writes: "...the biggest challenge to enjoying 'Spring Awakening': buying into the disjunction between setting and style. If you're not bothered by it, you'll enjoy the show. If you are, then you'll be in deep trouble from the start."

“I found myself more dazzled than moved, but dazzle can be a good thing, and the production is too ornate an accomplishment to be ignored,” says Steven Leigh Morris of L.A. Weekly.

"It's not simply the energy these young cast members (choreographed by Bill T. Jones) supply or the boldness with which director Michael Mayer guides them," writes Evan Henderson, late of the Los Angeles Daily News, who calls the show a “very cool and very spicy rock musical.”

"Spring Awakening" runs through Dec. 7 at the Ahmanson Theatre.

--Lisa Fung

Photo credit: Paul Kolnik / Center Theatre Group