‘Spring Awakening’ brings light to teen issues

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Collegian | John Eisele/Colorado State Uni

Colorado State University’s School of Music Theatre and Dance presents “Spring Awakening,” with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater Nov. 3. (Photo Courtesy of John Eisele)

Alexander Wilson, Social Media Coordinator

On Friday, Nov. 4, the cast and crew of “Spring Awakening” celebrated their opening night. 

The musical, adapted from the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind, will run through Nov. 13 at the University Theatre at the University Center for the Arts. Adult admission is $18, and tickets are free for Colorado State University students.

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Throughout the show, many difficult discussions occur that consider purity culture, feminism, corporal punishment, suicide, rape, teen pregnancy, queer love in an unaccepting world, child abuse, slut shaming, unsafe abortion access, misogyny and grief.

Before the show began, the director, Noah Racey, gave a speech discussing the musical as well as his program.

Racey is a Tony award-winning choreographer who has directed many shows and is known for his performances on Broadway, including “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” He was brought to CSU to transform the theater program. 

“I have created a concentration in musical theater: It’s a closed concentration, which means you have to audition to get in, and (I) have created what I hope is an environment of excellence around musical theater,” Racey said. 

“’Spring Awakening’ is an important piece to do right now because there is a lot of attention being given to the development of young minds, young bodies and young hearts.” –Noah Racey, “Spring Awakening” director

As the lights came on, music began to play. Avery Rudman, who plays Wendla Bergmann, took the stage and sang a song depicting themes of body image issues. 

Colorado State University’s School of Music Theatre and Dance presents Spring Awakening with music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater
Colorado State University’s School of Music Theatre and Dance presents “Spring Awakening,” with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater Nov. 3. (Photo courtesy of John Eisele)

“’Spring Awakening’ is an important piece to do right now because there is a lot of attention being given to the development of young minds, young bodies and young hearts,” Racey said. “It is on the table as far as currency in a lot of intense debates around heavy-duty topics that run deeply into specific theologies and philosophies.”

Rudman raised concerns regarding the development of young human minds.

“‘Spring Awakening’ is one of the strongest pieces that I’ve ever seen that asks very difficult questions about what it means to try and inform that energy — that youthful, blossoming, powerful, hungry, violent, scary energy that is youth,” Rudman said. “We see a lot of very simple stories about how to deal with youth that don’t really ask tough questions, and this play is unflinching in what it puts in front of you as that discussion.”

“(My goal for ‘Spring Awakening’ is) to tell a timely story that asks very hard questions that puts our humanity in front of us and makes us see ourselves,” Racey said. “It’s kind of the point of any show we do — is to hold up a mirror to myself, to anyone who watches it and to give people a chance to turn inward.” 

Jay Duckworth, the head of properties, worked tirelessly to ensure his students felt safe and prepared for opening night. 

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Duckworth spoke to the true meaning behind the prop choices in the performance.

“The entire show is surrounded by books: There are books that are gravestones, books that are towers, even arches of books that go up to the ceiling,” Duckworth said. 

He continued to explain how the director made sure the literature speaks for the lives of the characters.

“We see three people die in this show, so I see these books represent all of those kids, whose stories they could not tell because of a repressive society,” Duckworth said.

“Spring Awakening” is the first show Racey and Duckworth have been a part of at CSU, yet they both have exciting plans for the future. 

Reach Alexander Wilson at entertainment@collegian.com or on @alexgrey0604.