BWW Previews: YOUTH IN REVOLT: SPRING AWAKENING at Eight O'Clock Theatre

BWW Previews: YOUTH IN REVOLT: SPRING AWAKENING  at Eight O'Clock Theatre
Photo by Eight O'Clock Theatre

Thanks to NBC's Rise, Eight O'Clock Theatre has an influx of curious mature patrons intrigued by the storyline of their newest musical production, Spring Awakening opening July 13-22.

Long before Rise, the kids already knew the story and wanted to be part of the performance with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. They knew Steven's lyrics backwards and forwards, followed videos on YouTube, or had previously seen live productions at madTheatre, FreeFall and the national tour.

Ninety-seven of them applied for the folksy rock musical with 15 roles.

With themes of abuse, statutory rape, abortion, and suicide, director Jason Tucker does not shy away from any of the controversial subjects. It's today's story... except for the unmistakable fact that it's based in Germany circa 1891.

Based on Frank Wedekind's 1891 play, Spring Awakening is a dark coming-of-age tale of kids looking for answers and the adults who refuse to provide them.

The irony of repression in 1891 mirroring 2018 is not lost on its director and is using props to reflect the theme's timelessness.

"I am interested that a script from 1891 still feels as relevant as it does. In every era of culture, these themes are relevant and remain relevant to this day," said Jason. "If I was to wrote a play now, I might write it almost exactly the same."

As protestors are trying to take sex education out of schools and replace with abstinence lectures, women's rights are being trampled and Roe versus Wade risks being repealed or gutted in the Supreme Court, one of the storylines - the unnecessary death of a naïve young girl due to a botched abortion - is more relevant than ever.

Life imitates art.

Spring Awakening follows the lives of Melchior, Hanschen, Wendla and Moritz as they and their friends transition from child to adult with no instruction on how to do this. Considered by most as one of the most exciting modern musicals, Spring Awakening shows the loss of innocence and its devastating consequences.

"Wendla's story is a story of ignorance. Her parents don't prepare her for what she needs to know to become a woman. They don't tell her that her body can create life. She has no idea. She stumbles into it and of course, the moment that she becomes pregnant, her own society ostracizes her if she doesn't do something about it. That leads to a botched abortion which kills her," said Jason. "I can't think of a more relevant story for 2018. We have people right who rather teach abstinence than teach young girls what their bodies are capable of and that puts women in danger. I think this play perfectly highlights that from, literally, 140 years ago."

Excluding the two adult roles, the cast of Spring Awakening ranges from ages 15 to 20. Though Jason loves the message of the finale number "Song of Purple Summer," it should come as no surprise that the crowd favorite is "Totally F***ed."

Featuring seven live musicians, Spring Awakening stars Rachel Tata, Blake Royster, Justine Nelson, Martin Powers, Dylan Armstrong, Noah Pliss, Brianna Fallahee, Jack Dunham, Lauren Crandall, Ashton Sarlo, Cody Carlson, Ashlie Timberlake, John Timberlake, Christian Feliciano, Chelsea Hooker, Jonathan O'Brien and Anissa Perona.

"My cast is absolutely amazing," said Jason. "They're remarkably talented and full of youthful energy."

If you are looking for a thought-provoking theatrical experience, Spring Awakening may leave you wondering just how complicit you are.

"I think that is the message. We keep doing the same thing over and over and over again. Can we learn from it? Yes. Will we learn from it? Probably not," said Jason. "I want the audience to walk away wondering if they are part of any repression that's happening right now. I'd like them to wonder am I a part of a system that is repressing thought, growth, or knowledge."

Spring Awakening will be presented in Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Dr, Largo, Florida 33771 on July 13-22. Performances are Thursday at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. ASL Interpreters will be provided on Thursday, July 19. This show contains strong adult language, sexual content & situations, and references to suicide and death. Parental discretion is advised. Tickets are $28.50, $13.50 Students (22 & under), $25.50 Group (10 or more) and may be purchased online at www.largoarts.com/ticket.php.



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