Final Schuster play of season starts Thursday

Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre will host “Spring Awakening,” a winner of eight Tony Awards including best musical and best book/lyrics.

The musical, which debuts 8 p.m. Thursday, takes place in a rural German community that is transitioning into the industrial society.

“Spring Awakening” is an innovative contribution to the contemporary musical theatre, which is an integration of rock/pop music with the revivals of a series of German expressionistic tragedies that happened in the late 19th century, said the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, associate professor of theatre and director of “Spring Awakening.”

“Spring Awakening” isn’t the type of musical that is sweet and lovely, Clerkin said. “This musical is the kind of show that get down to where the rubber hits the road,” he said.

“This is the reality of life, not some kind of smoky idealistic beautiful story with dream ballads.”

Clerkin said people should know upfront that “Spring Awakening” is not the show for everybody. The musical contains relevant subjects such as sexuality, abuse, gender issues, sexual orientation issues and suicide, Clerkin said.

“If people have sensitivity to adult issues and strong language than this show is not for them,” he said. “But we’ve been very careful to make sure what people are coming to see is what they’re going to see by not glorifying the situations and the language, but placing these issues in a healthy and respectful way.”

Everything that goes wrong in “Spring Awakening” is a result of adults who hide the truth from young people in order to protect them and adults face the similar issues today with young people such as unexpected pregnancies and suicides, Clerkin said.

“This show is filled with challenges and issues that adults don’t understand such as mosh pits and the way young people dance,” he said. “But we as adults watch it and feel uncomfortable because we are the ones responsible.”

Brianna Woods, a freshman theatre and communication arts major, said her favorite part of “Spring Awakening” is before one of the characters, Moritz, experiences an essential moment.

“It shows how hard it is to be optimistic sometimes, even when the last thing you want to be is sad,” she said. “By the same token, the scene illustrates the importance of having that optimism and what can happen when you lose all hope. This musical is a story that stays in your heart.”

“Spring Awakening” was not only chosen due to the Schuster Theatre meeting its need to assure every student has an opportunity to experience all genres of theatre, Clerkin said, but because he fell in love with the music.

“Not only did I think the music was hip and cool, but it was aggressive and embracive,” he said. “It was full of heart and soul emotion. It made me remember what it was like to be 18, including the struggles of not only what I went through, but what other people went through such as asking questions and facing fears.”

Luis Pontillo, a junior theatre and communication arts major, said the last two songs of the show resonate with his being.

“It is a special moment for my character, Melchior Gabor, a dangerously intelligent child, who gets to share with Moritz and Wendla in Those You’ve Known as he realizes he has much to live for,” he said. “It is not until the beautiful message comes out in the song, The Song of Purple Summer.

“Spring Awakening’s” contemporary music is written by Duncan Sheik and the lyrics by Steven Sater. Both artists’ works creates a new environment for the audience, Clerkin said.

“As the performers begin to sing, it is as if the audience is hearing the inner thoughts of the characters,” he said. “The world shifts as the lightest change happens, making the scene seem like you’re in a rock world or dance club world.”

Pontillo said everyone can relate to “Spring Awakening” can relate to everyone no matter how old or young a person is.

“The musical has a wonderful message to offer to the Gannon community,” he said. “I hope that everyone comes out and supports the efforts of the cast and crew to this well-worth watching show.”

Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Friday, April 27, Saturday, April 28, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 29. Reservations are recommended to be made with the box office at 871-7494, due to performances starting to sell out. The cost for all Gannon students, administration, faculty and staff is free and $5 for the public.




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