‘Spring Awakening’ opens unplugged on USM stage in Gorham on Oct. 31

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In repressive 19th-century Germany, where youth are kept ignorant about such details, the teens confront their budding sexuality with scandalous consequences.

“While the story takes place in the late 1800s, it highlights dilemmas that teenagers continue to struggle with today,” said Edward Reichert, USM lecturer in musical theatre and director of the show.

“Some of the issues dealt with in the show include child abuse, abortion and suicide, as well as the society that doesn’t accept homosexuality.”

The audience is immersed in the tumultuous lives of the adolescents, and their anxieties and passions are explored through a folk-infused score and earnest lyrics. As concerns and complexities mount, the growing tension is suddenly broken by the shock of the pop-rock score.

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“The students break out into dramatic rock ballads,” said Reichert, “and the audience sees a side of the teens that directly relates to modern culture. The music forges a bridge to the passion and angst that teens experience today. We’re very excited to be performing this score ‘unplugged’ – without microphones.

“There is a continuous interplay of 1890s Germany and present-day America,” Reichert continued. “This innovative compositional device becomes one of many aspects of the show that makes it such a thrilling and relevant piece for our student performers.”

Kellie Moody will provide musical direction and lead the band of seven School of Music students. Jasmine Ireland  is choreographing the production, which also features lighting design by Caleb Lacy and costume design by Cameron Wright, who also plays the role of Mortiz.

In the musical, Wendla perplexes over where babies come from, but her mother refuses to provide her with any information on the subject. Martha confides to her friends that her father has been abusing her, but she keeps the secret from others, fearing that she’ll end up homeless like the similarly abused Ilse.

Mortiz is concerned about erotic dreams he’s been having, which he assumes are a sign of insanity, despite his friend Melchior’s attempts at education. While the two friends and their fellow male classmates hunt for carnal knowledge and indulge in sensual fantasies, the girls chat about which boys they would like to marry. Meanwhile, Hanschen and Ernst realize that they are more excited by each other than any women in the town.

One afternoon, Wendla and Melchior, friends since they were children, discover a desire for each other unlike anything they’ve ever felt. When the friends eventually oblige their shared lust, they generate a whole new set of devastating circumstances.

“Spring Awakening” is based on the 1891 Frank Wedekind play by the same name, which was banned in Germany because of its frank portrayal of mature content.

“Spring Awakening” includes mature language and language. It is not recommended for children.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2; at Corthell Concert Hall, USM Gorham Campus, 37 College Ave. Tickets: $15, general public, $10, seniors, USM employees and alumni, $5, students. For more information, visit http://usm.maine.edu/music/boxoffice or call 207-780-5555.

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