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Penn State Thespians to Present ‘Spring Awakening’

by and on March 22, 2018 3:15 PM

The Penn State Thespians will perform the 2006 rock musical “Spring Awakening” this weekend in Schwab Auditorium. Based on the play by Frank Wedekind (which was at one point banned in Germany), the tells a story of self-discovery and sexual awakening.

The show is set in late 19th-century Germany, where naive teen Wendla Bergmann still has a lot to learn about herself and her sexuality. Her mother hides the truth from her, and all of the adults shy away from the subject. At school, teenage boys also struggle with the idea of themselves as sexual beings since they are told it’s a sin.

Often described as a radical, the headstrong Melchior Gabor revolts against these teachings. He’s the first of the boys to understand how his body changes through puberty and what that means. Melchior realizes the society he’s living in must be questioned and changed.

Photo by Cori Bugenhagen | Onward State

Reed Callan, who plays Melchior, says “Spring Awakening” has always been one of his favorite shows. His character plays a role in educating the other teenagers and helping them stop viewing sexuality as a sin.

“I think there is always something to learn in society and there is a common goal toward acceptance and equality and that is an important part of the show,” Callan said.

Many times high schools have to censor “Spring Awakening” because of the mature content, so the cast feels lucky to be able to perform it on a college campus.

“It’s a really controversial show and often times the things that are censored are the most important stories to tell,” said Melissa Elliot, who plays Wendla. “I just want a conversation to be started, whether it’s good or bad, I just want people to start talking when they leave.”

Casting is an important part of this show, especially because the cast needs to be comfortable with acting out scenes that are suggestive. It’s also important to make sure that the two leads, Wendla and Melchoir, have good on-stage chemistry.

“Wendla is a character that hits every emotional peak that a human can go through,” Elliot said. “As a person playing that role it is very challenging but also super empowering.”

Photo by Cori Bugenhagen | Onward State

“It was a challenge for me to make sure the themes of the show translated to what was happening on stage,” director Evan Young said. “The cast sat down during rehearsal a lot and discussed a lot of the themes to make sure they had that understanding.”

With sexual and violent content, the production is for mature audiences. Characters help each other discover their bodies and minds to make their way through a society full of secrets. Cowards from the truth, the adults are no help in the teenagers’ quest to find who they are and what it means to be sexual beings.

The vocal talent of Callan, Elliot, and the other members of the cast is strikingly powerful and brings raw emotion to the story.

Penn State Thespians will perform “Spring Awakening” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, in Schwab Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $4.98 for students and $12 for community members.

Photo by Cori Bugenhagen | Onward State

This post was originally published by the staff at Onward State. Follow Onward State on Twitter @OnwardState.

Cassady Potts is a Penn State student and writer for Onward State.
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