New York City Public School Stages Spring Awakening

We’re so used to hearing about educators shutting down productions of The Laramie Project, Rent, Hair and even Grease, that we were a little blown away to hear a New York City public school was staging Spring Awakening, the sexually-charged musical that rocked Broadway in 2007.

The Beacon School, an arts and technology high school near Lincoln Center, is one of the first in the country to stage the Tony-winning show, which helped launch the careers of Glee‘s Lea Michele and out actor Jonathan Groff. Its sold-out run is ending on May 5.

With a book by Steven Staer and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening dwells on heady matters like sexuality, masturbation, abortion, suicide and sexual abuse—and includes a gay subplot between students Hanschen and Ernst.



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  • Timmeeeyyy!!!

    It’s a great play and was very popular with teens, but I’m not sure it’s an appropriate choice for 14 year olds.

  • Danny

    Isn’t the gay character essentially mocked in the production?

  • Howard

    @Danny: Yes, but that’s sort of the point of a realistic play about teenagers in 1990 Germany?

  • kouros

    @Howard:umm no hes not mocked or anything he sort of portrays the antithesis to the main character. the play is set in 1890s Germany. The gay scene is between a innocent gay teenager Ernst, and a maybe gay seductive intelligent Hanschen. Hanschen just like the main character is intelligent and understands the realities of life and how the kids live under the curtain of the adults. However he doesnt upfront attack the institutions but rather knowing how the system works he abuses it he “skims the cream” off the milk. He understands what sex is and the fact that is is fun. After the talk he seduces the timid Ernst who actually likes him and we are left wondering if Hanschen likes him or Earnst to him is just a means for sexual pleasure.

  • Sophia

    @Timmeeeyyy!!!: I Disagree, for 14 year olds this play directly correlates to their lives. It is extremely relevant and I think that it made a big difference in the lives of the children performing and attending it.

  • Dan

    I’m in the production mentioned here (at the beacon school), and I can say that
    1. Being how great the material is for teenagers, it’s all the better for teenagers to do it themselves. At least we’ve been told by people who saw it, that all the real feelings of teenagers shine through the performances.
    2. At least in our staging, the director made her best efforts to take the gay characters seriously. She didn’t like that their subplot was treated as somewhat of a joke in the original production.

  • Christopher

    Hi!! I’m actually in this production, and I play Ernst, one of the gay characters. Hanschen and Ernst are most certainly not mocked in our production. The Broadway version did make a bit of a joke out of their scene, but our director did a really great job in making sure that the two actually served the plot, rather than just as comic relief.

  • Rachel

    @Timmeeeyyy!!!: The play is about young people and their struggles. It may be a racy play, but I’d say it’s more appropriate for kids to explore these themes in safe, controlled settings than actually having to experience them in their lives. And the production at Beacon was amazing.

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