In New York City right now, there’s a Broadway musical that’s capturing audiences’ hearts with the controversial issues about young, sexual awakening.
You hear a lovely cello melody in the background, and the voice of a girl begins to sing softly about her mother, a woman who loved her unconditionally, yet gave her “no way to handle things” or understand the emotional labyrinth of becoming a woman. Gradually, the soothing song turns into a rhythmic a cappella beat, like a gospel choir with many girls’ voices joining in. They sing as if they all share a story, but as this musical progressively unfolds, we learn that their circumstances are quite different, but at the same time all are painful and sincere. Spring Awakening takes place in late 19th century Germany, where the adults are always right, and they only “trust in what is written” in science books, history books and the Bible. Unlike RENT, these kids don’t get their way with rebellion, because society punishes them for misbehavior.
Spring Awakening is not your average Broadway musical soundtrack. Yes, we’ve heard songs about puberty and struggles of growing up before, but this musical reveals how strong religiosity and traditions make young people suffer emotionally. Wendla and Melchior, the two main characters, are the awkward Romeo and Juliet; they get very attached to each other, but don’t know how far they should let those feelings go. Imagine a time when asking your mom where babies came from would send you straight to your room without supper; that’s the society that Spring Awakening brings to us. The songs (composed by contemporary artist Duncan Sheik) are surprisingly soothing at points, with the occasional violin and keyboards suggesting the mood of a lullaby … but the lyrics tell us something else. Consider the fact that one song is titled “The Bitch of Living,” and is about how the young men wonder if they can ever get over their innermost desires, no longer being ashamed of them. Spring Awakening’s music brings out that determination in these young people, in a toned-down, modern mix of guitar, drums, and electric piano.
So, if you can’t make it to New York anytime soon, listen to the Spring Awakening soundtrack. Trust me. It’ll steal your heart’s innocence and leave you begging for more.