'Spring Awakening," making its Long Island professional premiere at Staller Center Sunday and Tilles Center next weekend, is the Tony-winning hit that comes with parental guidance.
The musical is based on a banned 1891 German play by Frank Wedekind. But the Broadway producers tried to put the controversy -- teen sex and its consequences -- in a positive light. "Spring Awakening," they said, opens the door to parent-child conversations that terrify adults.
Wendla, played on Broadway by "Glee's" Lea Michele, complains in her opening song, "Mama Who Bore Me," that she doesn't know where babies come from. And she's an aunt! So when she hooks up with Melchior (Jonathan Groff, also of "Glee"), a teen boy who knows a thing or two, she's as shocked as her mother when she becomes pregnant. (Oh, that's where babies come from!)
BUS AND TRUCKAfter great success -- eight 2007 Tonys, including best musical, book and score for creators Steven Slater and Duncan Sheik, choreography for Bill T. Jones -- "Spring Awakening" embarked on a national tour. It played major cities for runs of a week or longer. Now in its third year, a non-Equity cast plays mostly one-nighters on a bus-and-truck tour. The cast of 20 -- plus the rock-score band -- travels by bus; the crew trucks ahead with the set and tech equipment, while the cast rests in a hotel after each performance.
"We're trying to reach the college demographic this time," says Josh Sherman, booking director for On the Road, a tour company. With teen- or college-age actors and a smattering of adults, "the college audiences are seeing their peers, which we think is awesome," says Sherman, adopting that age group's vernacular. On Long Island, it was a no-brainer to book Staller (Stony Brook University) and Tilles (C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University). Eighteen audience bleacher seats onstage were snapped up by students, said a Staller spokeswoman.
Wendla will be played by Elizabeth Judd, a college student from Dallas, Melchior by Christopher Wood, a recent Elon University grad, and Moritz (originated by John Gallagher in the Tony-winning supporting role) by Coby Getzug, the only one of the three with a Broadway credit ("Brighton Beach Memoirs").
STILL RACY The musical, directed on tour by Lucy Skilbeck, is performed without alterations. "It's the same show you saw on Broadway," says Sherman. "Nothing's been changed," including the "Totally [expletive]" song Melchior bellows when he's caught with a how-to sex manual procured for his less-worldly friend Moritz. "The only issue we've had on tour was in West Virginia," Sherman says. "They asked that we not show any bare breast."
So you've been warned.
WHAT "Spring Awakening"
INFO $42, stallercenter.com, 631-632-2787; $42 to $67 tillescenter.org, 516-299-3100, Performance Plus! lecture at 5:45, $5