Recently, there have been many contemporary musicals created to appeal to teens, from movie or book adaptations, such as Heathers and Be More Chill, to concert-like shows, such as Six. However, even though these musicals tend to be geared towards teenagers, they have no sense of deeper meanings nor complete originality.
Spring Awakening, which opened on Broadway in 2006, has both of these things, while still being great to listen to. The show is set in late 19th-century Germany, but don’t let the time fool you — t’s a contemporary commentary on how teens are confused and sexually curious,both back then and now. While it does have some period relevant topics, such as illegal abortions, a community non-accepting to LGBTQ+, and domestic abuse (though many of these issues are still present in today’s world as well), it provides a reflection of how puberty affects lives in a mature way.
The plot isn’t necessary to enjoy the music, however. The songs carry themselves through everyday life as well by being relatable and easy to listen to. While the songs do add some depth to the plot, the plot itself doesn’t add anything to the musical except some context. The songs are still modern, a strong juxtaposition to the dated setting. The relevance of these songs is just further commentary on how timeless these teenage issues and angst are.
The songs themselves are overall a great listen. Ranging from more rock songs, like “The Bitch of Living” and “Totally Fucked”, to more mellow, thought out songs, like “Touch Me” and “The Guilty Ones”, the soundtrack can be played over and over again without getting old. The composer, Duncan Sheik, and lyricist, Steven Sater, manage to create a relatability in their music while still handling the period-relevant topics of the late 19th century. This musical can transcend so many contemporary musicals by being different and addressing current issues.