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SPRING AWAKENING Goes Unplugged at USM School of Music This Weekend

Eight-time Tony Award-winner "Spring Awakening," the provocative musical celebration of teen rebellion and discovery, takes the stage for four exhilarating performances next month at the University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Music.

"Spring Awakening" features an electrifying alternative rock score by Duncan Sheik, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The original cast album won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. This evocative musical follows a group of teenagers as they explore the highs and lows of the hormone-infused transition from adolescence to adulthood. In repressive 19th-century Germany, where youth are kept ignorant about such details, the teens confront their budding sexuality with scandalous consequences.

"While the story takes place in the late 1800s, it highlights dilemmas that teenagers continue to struggle with today," said Edward Reichert, USM lecturer in musical theatre and director of the show. "Some of the issues dealt with in the show include child abuse, abortion and suicide, as well as the society that doesn't accept homosexuality."

"Spring Awakening," score by Duncan Sheik and book by Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind; directed by Edward Reichert, musical direction by Kellie Moody; today, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2014; show times vary; Corthell Concert Hall, USM Gorham Campus, 37 College Av., Gorham; tickets: $15, general public, $10, seniors, USM employees and alumni, $5, students; go to usm.maine.edu/music/boxoffice or call (207) 780-5555; Sponsored by Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution.

The audience is immersed in the tumultuous lives of the adolescents, and their anxieties and passions are explored through Sheik's folk-infused score and Sater's earnest lyrics. As concerns and complexities mount, the growing tension is suddenly broken by the shock of the pop-rock score.

"The students break out into dramatic rock ballads," said Reichert, "and the audience sees a side of the teens that directly relates to modern culture. The music forges a bridge to the passion and angst that teens experience today. We're very excited to be performing this score 'unplugged' - without microphones.

"There is a continuous interplay of 1890s Germany and present-day America," Reichert continued. "This innovative compositional device becomes one of many aspects of the show that makes it such a thrilling and relevant piece for our student performers."

Kellie Moody, USM School of Music alumna, will provide musical direction and lead the band of seven School of Music students. Jasmine Ireland, formerly of Penobscot Theatre Company, is choreographing the production, which also features lighting design by Caleb Lacy, USM senior Theatre major, and costume design by Cameron Wright, who also plays the role of Mortiz.

In the musical, Wendla perplexes over where babies come from, but her mother refuses to provide her with any information on the subject. Martha confides to her friends that her father has been abusing her, but she keep the secret from others, fearing that she'll end up homeless like the similarly abused Ilse.

Mortiz is concerned about erotic dreams he's been having, which he assumes are a sign of insanity, despite his friend Melchior's attempts at education. While the two friends and their fellow male classmates hunt for carnal knowledge and indulge in sensual fantasies, the girls chat about which boys they would like to marry. Meanwhile, Hanschen and Ernst realize that they are more excited by each other than any women in the town.

One afternoon, Wendla and Melchior, friends since they were children, discover a desire for each other unlike anything they've ever felt. When the friends eventually oblige their shared lust, they generate a whole new set of devastating circumstances.

"Spring Awakening" premiered on Broadway in 2006 and received immediate rave reviews. The New York Times described the show as "haunting and electrifying" and proclaimed that "Broadway may never be the same."

"Spring Awakening" is based on the 1891 Frank Wedekind play by the same name, which was banned in Germany because of its frank portrayal of mature content.

"Spring Awakening" includes mature language and language. It is not recommended for children.

Showtimes:
8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31
8 p.m., Saturday, November 1
2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Sunday, November 2

Tickets - $15, general public, $10, seniors, USM employees and alumni, $5, students. Go to http://usm.maine.edu/music/boxoffice or call (207) 780-5555.

Cast List (by name, role, year, major and hometown):

  • Sean Arsenault (Karl), freshman Musical Theatre major, Scarborough, Maine
  • Eric Berry-Sandelin (Hänschen), junior Musical Theatre major, South Portland, Maine
  • Chloe Brumfield (Gretl) freshman Musical Theatre major; Marstons Mills, Mass.
  • Emily Davis (Frau Bergmann/Adult woman), senior Musical Theatre major, Westbrook, Maine
  • Katie Ann Delcourt (Dora): sophomore Musical Theatre major; Biddeford, Maine
  • Tim Follette (Georg) sophomore music minor, Ellsworth, Maine
  • Taylor Gervais (Ernst), sophomore Musical Theatre major, Hermon, Maine
  • Rachel Grindle (Ilse), sophomore Musical Theatre major, Portland, Maine
  • Jordan Holt (Martha), senior Musical Theatre major, Plymouth, Mass.
  • Brianna Housman (Anna), sophomore Musical Theatre major, Searsport, Maine
  • Gregory Judd (Otto), senior Music Education major, Auburn, Maine
  • Liz Kershenbaum (Wendla), senior Musical Theatre major, North Andover, Mass
  • Matthew LaBerge (Herr Sonnenstich/Adult man), junior Music major, South Portland, Maine
  • Michelle Oakland (Tanja) freshman Musical Theatre major; Littleton, Mass.
  • Alexandra Sarnacchiaro (Thea), sophomore Musical Theatre major, Saugus, Mass.
  • Aria Tonini (Heidi) junior Music Education major; Alfred, Maine
  • Matthew West (Melchior), senior Musical Theatre major, Farmington, Maine
  • Cameron Wright (Mortiz), junior Musical Theatre major, Ellsworth, Maine

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