Spring Awakening was originally a play written by Frank Wedekind in 1891, and the Broadway musical based on said play was written in the 21st century. The musical features music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics and book by Steven Sater. The original play was very controversial to audiences of that time period due to explicit sexual content, and didn't have its first production until 1906 in Germany. It wasn't introduced to the United States until 1917, when it premiered in New York City. It was nearly shut down due to it being a "pornographic work." The musical version premiered in New York off-Broadway in May of 2006. It then moved to Broadway in December 2006, and became a sensation much as RENT did in The Nineties. However, its closing date was January 19, 2009, after 888 shows.The show revolves around a group of teenagers, fourteen in the play, of unspecified age in the musical, which is made confusing with the frequent usage of Age-Inappropriate Dress. Melchior is a rebellious bad boy and proud atheist who hates the authority figures in his life. Moritz is Melchior's nervous wreck of a friend, anxious about his school work and ashamed of his sexual feelings. Wendla is a naive but curious girl who develops feelings for Melchior.Melchior and Wendla have a sexual encounter (the consent of which is ambiguous), and Wendla becomes pregnant. Whoops. Moritz is disgusted with his sexual feelings, which distract him from his schoolwork, causing him to fail school and disappoint his parents who he can't turn to. He ends up committing suicide. Wendla's mother takes her to have an abortion, which Wendla does not survive. Two characters, Hanschen and Ernst, discover their homosexuality with one another. And, to top it off, two female characters, Martha and Ilse, are sexually and physically abused by their fathers.In other words, Hilarity Ensues. Many fans will admit the music is better than the story, as the exploration of teenage sexuality and uncertainty might seem like old hat today. (Keep in mind, though, that the play was a groundbreaking example of modern drama and one of the first to address such issues.)Not to be confused with Catapult Nightmare.This show provides examples of:
Adults Are Useless: Almost everything any adult does is to the detriment of one of the teenagers. The only ones who may not qualify are the piano teacher and Hanschen's father.
Acting for Two: Well, a lot more than just two. The "Adult Woman" will play Melchior's mother, Wendla's mother, Fraulein Knuppeldik, Georg's piano teacher etc. "Adult Man" will play Hanschen's father, Moritz's father, Herr Knochenbruch, Melchior's father and the teacher of the boy's Latin class; Herr Sonnenstich.
Anachronism Stew: Though still set in 19th century Germany, the lyrics to the musical are in a very modern idiom.
When a character takes out their microphone and sings, they are said to be in their own "Song World", not in 19th century Germany anymore but in a more modern world. Steven Sater uses this to explain the many topics in the show are still very much relevant to the youth of today: death, rape, sexuality, adolescent love, authority and places in society, hence why Hanschen references turning his stereo on in "My Junk," and the Workshop's version of "The Bitch of Living" mentioned wearing jeans, although the characters singing it where smartly buttoned into their stiff school uniforms.
Dark Reprise: The penultimate song in the musical, "Those You've Known", which is a direct nod to Melchior's first song "All That's Known" at the very start of the musical. "Those You've Known" features reprises from "All That's Known" and "I Believe".
Descent Into Darkness Song: "I Believe" has its tone darken as the two leads transition from kissing to ambiguously consensual sex.
Double Entendre: The song "My Junk" sounds like a rather sweet innocent bouncy song about two teenagers falling in love, even though others don't think they're cool... that is until you find out that the song is actually just about the joys of masturbation.
The Four Loves: Martha, perhaps? She is shown to have a crush on Moritz, as mentioned during the start of the musical (as well in the original play), despite the rest of her friends going completely goo-goo over the radical that is Melchior Gabor.
Ghost Song: "Those You've Known", in which Wendla and Moritz appear to Melchior as spirits, to reassure him.
In the stage play (and heard from the musical's Original Workshop recordings), it's just Moritz, and the scene is decidedly far creepier as he actually tries to beckon to Melchior to join him in the afterlife... then the Masked Stranger appears...
Sater and Sheik composed two songs for the graveyard scenes before "Those You've Known". Their titles were "Clouds Will Drift Away" and "Blue-Mirror Night (Reprise)"
Irrelevant Act Opener: The cut song, "There Once Was a Pirate", it only seen performed in the Off-Broadway run.
"I Want" Song: "Mama Who Bore Me" and "Mama Who Bore Me (Reprise)".
"All That's Known", again. And "Touch Me" is most definitely about wanting sex.
Lyrical Dissonance: At least half of the musical, including "The Bitch of Living" and "Totally Fucked."
"The Dark I Know Well" is an example of literal musical dissonance—the chorus is similar to many love songs, but it's sung very angrily and the main guitar riff is the prime example of a Scare Chord. ...Because it's about Parental Incest.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: It looks like Ilse is going to play this role to Moritz—a free-spirited runaway and artist's model who doesn't let life get her down— but it doesn't exactly work out. Her part in The Dark I Know Well, and the nonchalance with which she accounts being threatened and harassed by her lovers in some versions, suggest she's a bit of a Broken Bird as well.
Mind Screw: Budapest's version of said musical garnered a collective "what the fuck?!" from fans with their extreme and rather unnecessary alteration to the blocking/choreography/stage design that already existed. One rather creepy example is the new design of "The Dark I Know Well", leading to a very disturbing scene that is usually left to the audience's imagination.
Also, Ilse is seen carrying a plastic baby with her, Moritz and Ilse appear to have sex, The Song of Purple Summer is sung by the ensemble whilst wearing sauna-like towels, The Bitch of Living's Latin class' wooden chairs are instead neon-coloured cubes (of course) and Georg actually gets up close and personal with his piano teacher who, in this version, is portrayed by an elderly woman.
They later totally reconfigured the production into appearing to be a free-form class exercise by a modern-day drama class, with the adults played by teens as well.
"Mirror-Blue Night" pretty much evokes a Mind Screw reaction the first time you see it. The whole musical is not at all literal, and kinda makes you think on its themes.
Mr. Fanservice: Well, since this is an angsty rock musical marketed to teens, and the majority of the cast was under twenty-five (not including the Adult Man and Woman) the males are particularly popular amongst the female fans, although Moritz and Melchior divided most of the fandom into two separate camps.
The original Hungarian production had Szilveszter Szabo as the Adult Man. Yes, they made him look apparently as creepy as they possibly could, but he's Mr. Fanservice enough outside of this show◊ that there were fangirls there just for him, too.
Rape and Revenge: Suggested as Martha's desire in one of the Vienna productions. During The Dark I Know Well, Martha is shown literally overshadowed by the sinister silhouette of her father, finally seizing a pillow and stabbing it with a knife as Ilse helps her. The pillow begins to bleed. It's popular fanon that Martha actually manages this outside of the time frame of the play, mostly because she's left such a woobie.
The Talk: "In order for a woman to conceive a child... she must... love her husband, love him... as she can love only him! With her whole... heart! There, now you know everything."
Which leads to the heartbreaking scene where Wendla and her mother learn Wendla is pregnant, and Wendla doesn't understand how it could have happened as she isn't married. The worst thing is that this and only this seems to cause her mother distress even as she shrugs off all the blame.
Teens Are Monsters, or, alternately, "Adults Suck and Then You Are One": The second Hungarian production played with this idea by putting the whole show in the Framing Device of being an improvised dramatic exercise done by a modern high school drama class. The two adults are also played by teenagers, and within the dramatic frame they quickly begin to go out of their way to hurt, confuse, impede and generally screw with the characters who are actually supposed to be teens, just because they can, and the other actors have to play along because these two are playing grown-ups and have to be listened to in-story no matter how malicious they get.