‘Sex, relationships, sex, abortion, sex, death, suicide, sex …’ Rock-infused and racy, FLC production of ‘Spring Awakening’ isn’t your typical musical

by David Holub

Yes, “Spring Awakening” is a musical. But don’t think Rodgers and Hammerstein or “Singin’ in the Rain.” And we’ve been assured there will be no jazz hands within a three-mile radius.

You’ll likely want to download the alt-rocky soundtrack after you see the show, while the story and themes just might rip your heart out. “Spring Awakening” doesn’t shy away from taboos. When asked about the themes, director and Fort Lewis theater prof Dennis Elkins said the musical was about “sex, relationships, sex, abortion, sex, death, suicide, sex, homosexuality, sex.”

Adapted from the shocking-for-its-time 1891 play of the same name, “Spring Awakening” follows a group of German youths as they discover themselves, their sexuality and their voices under the thumb of adult oppression.

We caught up with FLC freshman Johannah Laverty to get some behind-the-scenes. She plays Wendola, young and innocent at the start and, well, awakened by the end.

On Spring Awakening’s heavy themes

We’re (discussing) a bunch of things that are unsaid, that everyone knows about. They’re really heavy, like suicide and pregnancy and the awakening of everything, really. Everyone has (those topics) in the back of their head; they know what’s going on, with young kids and older people, too. But this play just speaks it. It’s heavy. We’re kind of like breaking down a wall in a way.

in rehearsal

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On challenges faced ly in the show

I’ve never had to do a heavy makeout scene. Also, just touching on your own emotions in the show. It’s a very emotional show. So to separate yourself from your character was hard to do. There’s a way that you should have a little bit of yourself coming through your character because that’s how you can really connect but to have a line there so you don’t overstep your character bounderies.

On why this isn’t your standard musical

I’ve been in a bunch of musicals that are sing-songy … and it’s totally different. If you go to a musical, you go just expecting to be entertained. If it’s happy songs, good dancing, then you’re entertained. With this show, the songs and the scenes are so real that I don’t think you’re just entertained. You’re invested in it.

— David Holub

This interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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