Friday, June 29, 2007

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening was the latest in my monthly show-with-grandma series. You may be looking at that picture and thinking, hmm, not something I would want to watch with my grandma, but to be honest it's pretty much old hat by now.

And at this moment I feel that I should take a second to point out that as much as I joke about this particular grandmother on my blog, and as much as she drives me nuts at times, she's a pretty cool lady and I do hope that comes across. In addition to the classes she takes and the shows she goes to, in the next year or so she's going to Egypt, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, and China. I certainly hope that I'm as active, and leading as interesting a life as she is.

But anyway, the musical. It just won a whole passel of Tonys, of course, though upon seeing it I wish some more of those had gone to Grey Gardens. I've never been wild about rock musicals. I like my cheesy musical music. And I like the good musical music, like Sondheim, even better. If I want to listen to rock, I can put on a cd. And I just didn't find the music that interesting.

That said, I did think it was a very good musical. Although I prefer it when the music actually moves the story along, I though it did a good job of illuminating the emotional state of the characters while being relatively disconnected from the action of the play. And as you couldn't always understand the lyrics, it's probably for the best that the actual narrative wasn't contained within them. The other thing I though it did really well was capture the confusion and over-the-top emotion of adolescence. Interesting, because there were moments when it evoked a certain feeling of nostalgia, but for the most part it left you with a feeling of, oh thank God I got past that mess. Which is how I generally feel about my middle school and high school years so no surprise there. I mean, I had fun, particularly in high school, but I certainly wouldn't want to live them over again. Such drama.

My problem really stems from the fact that I felt like it started out so well, and filled with promise, only to descend by the end into a typical melodrama with a bit of plot that felt entirely too after school special. Now, the play itself (minus music) was written some hundred years ago, so perhaps it was a bolder ending at the time, but now it just feels a bit boring and predictable. But most people seem to love the musical rather more than I do--although merely liking something should hardly be an insult--so here are some clips from the godsend that is YouTube.

"The Bitch of Living" (with cuts to other bits of the musical):

A bit of "My Junk" (after some introductory stuff) on Breakfast with the Arts:

"Touch Me" on the View:

"The Word of Your Body (reprise)" performed by cast members at the Apple store:

The Tony Award medley (a bit of repetition from "The Bitch of Living" in the middle):

1 comment:

LLEW MARSH said...

Everyone's entitled to their own views and yes it's no Sondheim but fact of life is - we do not go around bursting into song at moments of emotional weakness or climax and what Spring Awakening does is give u an insight into the characters' emotions thru their songs - which is set apart and sometimes In the middle of what's going on.

Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote CONTEMPORARY music - pop hits of the day and Spring is using Contemporary music the same way they did.

Spring is no Les Miz, it's a Musical Play - not unlike Cabaret and Chicago where the Characters sing songs in their Head.......

I loved Gypsy - and i Loved Spring .... Hairspray and Avenue Q - fun and all that but will not be remembered in 50 years.... Spring will!