Elon University’s 2023 fall main stage musical will have its opening night performance at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 in McCrary Theatre. The show, “Spring Awakening,” is an angsty, coming-of-age rock musical set in 19th century Germany.
The show follows a group of young teenagers discovering their sexuality and will have showings at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 and 28, and Nov. 2 to Nov. 4. There will also be a matinee at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29. Tickets are available on the Elon ticketing website for $15 or free with an Elon ID.
Senior Anne-Sophie Hill plays Anna, a curious 13-year-old girl. Despite the show following adolescents, Hill said it is important for adults to see the show too.
“It connects you back to your childhood,” Hill said. “It also gets you a little uncomfortable and makes you think — and I think that's always important, just in art in general, to not always consume what makes you comfortable.”
Senior Tommy Pegan plays the role of Adult Man and said the show is a fable that warns the audience what happens when people aren’t taught about their bodies.
“Everyone's got a body, and I don't know if we'll ever come to a general consensus on what to do with sex ed,” Pegan said. “But if you're not even teaching safety, I think that this will open up people's eyes.”
All of the adult characters in the show are portrayed by only two actors, Pegan and sophomore Helena Padial, in the roles of Adult Man and Adult Women. Pegan said this reflects how the teenagers see the adults as all enforcing the same societal standards, including stigma around sexuality.
Assistant costume designer and senior Brianna Boucher said the yellows and greens in the costumes represent the characters’ different relationships with their sexuality.
“The prettier shades of green represent a healthier relationship with sex,” Boucher said. “As you get into the muddier, not as appealing greens – even some of the muddy yellows – that shows that the character has a less healthy relationship with sex.”
Hill said that even with the show's serious – and often dark – themes, the show’s humor and contemporary soundtrack make it an enjoyable experience.
“We're literally rocking out on stage,” Hill said.
According to Pegan, the songs in “Spring Awakening” convey the raw thoughts of the teenage ensemble. Pegan said that the exploration and expression of teenage emotions is one of his favorite parts of the show and what helps a musical set in the 19th century connect with a modern audience.
“Spring Awakening” made its debut in 2006 and took home eight Tony awards in 2007, including “Best Original Score.”
Despite its contemporary rock music, “Spring Awakening” is based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name. Wedekind’s play was first performed in the 1906 and was shocking at the time for addressing themes such as sex, death, violence and homosexuality. The original musical adaptation did not shy away from these topics and Hill, Pegan and Boucher all said Elon University’s production found its own ways to explore the show’s themes.
The fall musical is directed by performing arts professor Kim Shively. Pegan said having a female director with a background in theatrical intimacy coordination gave a valuable perspective on how the story would be told. According to Pegan, Elon’s production aims to give more agency and humanity to the female characters compared to the Broadway production.
“They have so much agency in this version, and we haven't changed any of the dialogue,” Pegan said. “It is just merely the blocking and how they have interpreted the lines and it gives the feminine voice in the script so much power.”
Pegan said the content disclosures posted around McCrary and on Elon Performing Arts’ website are important and necessary, but he hopes their daunting nature doesn’t push audience members away from seeing the show and its messages.
“This, while still having dark themes, is handled with such grace and accessibility that I think the audience will be able to take away something from it,” Pegan said.