While “Rent” is often considered the definitive rock musical-and it is certainly the most successful-others have tried to follow in the hopes of widening the appeal of Broadway to a different audience.
“Spring Awakening’s” catchy soundtrack by Steven Sater (book and lyrics) and Duncan Sheik (music), is undoubtedly moving and certainly melodious, but doesn’t provide much more musical innovation than that of some of its predecessors. The orchestral and rock sounds alternate in a blend that works well, nicely complementing the lyrics.
Based on “The Awakening of Spring,” a drama penned by German playwright Frank Wedekind in 1891, the musical succeeds in relating the themes of rebellion and curiosity by teenagers in repressive social and emotional setting. Love and loss are also skillfully transmitted through the songs.
“Mama Who Bore Me” and its reprise poignantly open the musical, with a mix of acoustic guitar and violin. Such musical accompaniment is also present in the similarly touching “Left Behind.” Notable use of the acoustic guitar is also present in “I Believe,” an uplifting number, in the vein of “Seasons of Love” dealing with forgiveness and love.
Its more upbeat, rock-influenced tracks are powerful displays of youthful energy and dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is apparent in the stand-out song, “The Bitch of Living,” and others such as “My Junk,” “And Then Were None” and “Totally F**ked.”
Besides the powerful rock-infused numbers, more vocally-oriented strong songs also shine. The force of “Whispering” and “Those You’ve Known” draw the listener in and “The Song of Purple Summer” provides for an uplifting finale.
Overall, though it is somewhat thematically different from past rock musicals, “Spring Awakening” is definitely worth a listen.
Greg Linch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.