So it seems that the musical version of "Spring Awakening," fostered by soft rock guru Duncan Sheik and featuring a pulsating indie-rock score, would be little more than a vanity project. But there was no good reason to remake such a dissentious story simply because not much has changed between the wide-eyed, confused and sexually stimulated kids that populated Wedekind's village and the same wide-eyed, confused and sexually stimulated kids growing up today.
Though Sheik and writer Steven Sater provide a decidedly contemporary treatment on the age-old wonders of romance and reproduction, Wedekind's tale still centers around two young lovebirds on the cusp of their sexual "awakening," and all of the good, old-fashioned German brutality that comes along with it. As Wendla (Ali Hoxie) and Melchior Gabor (Vincent Kempski) indulge in their nascent sexual desires, their school chums are torn between towing the line and railing against the establishment of the day.
|Where: The Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW|
|When: Through July 8|
|Info: $35 to $40; 703-892-0202; keegantheatre.com|
So pungent are the anthems of rebellion that you can practically smell the hormones perfuming the air in the Keegan Theatre's production on the Church Street stage. The large cast of sixteen features 14 fresh-faced youth and only two adult actors (who play all of the authoritarian roles, naturally).
Directors Mark A. Rhea and Susan Marie Rhea present a pared-down, amped-up evening of theater that has a "Dead Poets Society" feel to it -- their hypercaffeinated ensemble ably assaults Sater's precocious lyrics (consider the uber-poetic, rallying cry to bask in "The Song of Purple Summer") with lots of hopping and bopping and writhing in place. Among a uniformly solid cast wholly affected by the elongated vowels familiar in modern vernacular, Paul Scanlan's twitchy portrayal of the tortured Moritz Stiefel stands out next to Nora Palka's gentle, mature Ilse.
With taut music direction and smart sound design by Jake Null and his ever-present orchestra, a merely juvenile adaptation of "Spring Awakening" blossoms from a senseless immersion into a sexually oppressive German town to a full-blown musical fantasia underscoring the same problems that remain in the here and now.