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Keene State Theatre Stages Spring Awakening Musical

October 18, 2013
Keene State College actors (from left) Kristen Licht of Leominster, Mass. and Taylor Jorgensen of Wilton, N.H. will perform in the rock musical Spring Awakening.
Keene State College actors (from left) Kristen Licht of Leominster, Mass. and Taylor Jorgensen of Wilton, N.H. will perform in the rock musical Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening, a current and edgy rock musical that deals with young people’s sexuality, will be presented Wednesday to Saturday, November 13 to 16, by the Keene State College Theatre and Dance and Music departments. Each show starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Theatre of Keene State’s Redfern Arts Center. Tickets are $16 for the general public, $13 for senior citizens, and $6 for KSC students. Spring Awakening contains mature subject matter and may not be appropriate for all audiences. Call the box office at 603-358-2168 or order online at www.keene.edu/racbp.

Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the 2006 Broadway hit Spring Awakening, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Steven Sater, was inspired by the 1891 play of the same name by Frank Wedekind. The Broadway production also garnered four Drama Desk Awards, while the original cast album received a Grammy Award. The success of the Broadway production has spawned several other productions worldwide, including various U.S. productions, a short West End production that won four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best Musical, and a series of international productions.

The play takes a critical look at the sexually-oppressive culture of 19th century Germany and, due to the controversial subject matter (puberty, sexuality, rape, child abuse, homosexuality, suicide, abortion) it was consequently often banned or censored well into the mid-20th century. The musical speaks of the problem of sexual knowledge and experience being withheld from adolescents by adults, with the resultant action ending in tragedy for all involved, explained director Ron Spangler, an assistant professor of theatre at Keene State.

“The play both celebrates and cites the pitfalls that occur when youth rebel against the ironclad control of their elders,” said Spangler. “It allows an audience of young adults to strongly relate to the joys, sorrows and confusions of growing up and dealing with sexuality.”

Sadly enough, the play still rings true today because young people still share the same life experiences they did in the late 19th century. That’s why Spangler decided to set the play in the original time period using period costumes and scenery.

“Although there is a sense of period that is reflected in the text, through some elements of the set, and in the overall costume design, there are elements in all parts of the production design (especially in terms of the lighting) that move the piece’s issues and ideas into today with great passion and immediacy,” said Spangler.

Spring Awakening is being jointly produced by the Theatre and Dance Department and the Music Department, both of which provide funding for the production. The music director, Thomas R. Martin, who also serves as conductor of the band for the production, is the choral director at Keene High School.

Riley Ahern, a Dance major and an alumna of the Theatre and Dance Department is choreographer for the production.

The musical has a large cast of students including Jon Adams of Hudson, N.H.; Abbie Brown of Dublin, N.H.; Tyler J. Bean of Yarmouth, Maine; Forest DeCoste of Brewster, N.Y.; Taylor Jorgensen of Wilton, N.H.; Allyson Doyle of Leominster, Mass.; Amy St. Louis of Nashua, N.H.; Noah Hayden Carmel of Mineola, N.Y.; Gabrielle Ann Myska of Bristol, Conn.; Rebecca Yankowitz of Colchester, Conn.; Kristen Licht of Leominster, Mass.; and Tamar Teitelman of Keene. Lukas Theodossiou of Duxbury, Mass. is stage manager and Taylor Ciambra of Northford, Conn. is assistant stage manager.