Roughly once a year, somebody in the area trots out Duncan Sheik’s musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s late-1800s seminal (pun intended) work, Spring Awakening. Often banned and/or censored in its original form, the oh-so-German play (with the subtitle A Children’s Tragedy), deals with the sexual repression of the early 20th century and the subsequent fallout. Now considered a classic signpost for modern theater, Spring Awakening deals with puberty, sexuality, rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide, abortion … all in an exhausting three-act juggernaut that required an alt-rock musical overhaul in 2006 to soften the edges and make it all palatable enough for anyone except the most hardcore theatergoers. It is this version of Spring that became a hot property, prompting young wannabe Wendlas and Melchiors (the two main protagonists of the piece) to put the roles on their musical bucket lists.
This time around, after recent stabs by Brown University, URI and Wilbury Theatre Group, Little Theatre of Fall River (LTFR) takes up the mantle and presents Spring Awakening August 8 -18 (Little Theatre Firebarn 340 Prospect St at Highland). Jared Robinson directs, with Eli Bigelow handling musical direction chores. Though the salaciousness of Spring Awakening has been toned down considerably since the 1891 original, by taking on the musical, LTFR demonstrates once again that they are a community theater willing to take on some harder material than the usual fluff pieces and challenge their audiences, so kudos all around for the attempt. Some performances are already sold out, so visit littletheatre.net, for tickets and more info.