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Spring Awakening

It's amazing that writer Frank Wedekind had the courage and perception to write about adolescent sexual awakening in 1893, at a time when neither science nor society could even acknowledge the existence of erotic feelings in children. It's also amazing that Steven Sater (book and lyrics) and Duncan Sheik (music) turned Wedekind's play into a successful rock musical. In its own way, it's faithful to its source — till the play's last scene. There the adaptors seem to have lost their nerve and sacrificed Wedekind's surreal, darkly sardonic ending for upbeat lyric sentimentality. Director-producer Kate Sullivan has given the piece an exuberant and lavish production, well-cast and meticulously staged. As Melchior, Matt Vairo captures the quintessence of the young romantic hero, fatally at odds with the society around him. Chase Williamson's Moritz is intense and manic, exuding desperation from every pore. Lindsay Pearce's Wendla is a quivering mass of confused feelings she has not been allowed to understand, and the rest of the cast is top-notch. Stephen Gifford provides the huge and handsome set, Jessica Lively's costumes blend contemporary and period styles, and Brandon Baruch's lighting adds glitz and atmosphere. Musical director–conductor Rachael Lawrence leads the seven-piece band with panache. Over the Moon Productions at Theatre of Arts/Egyptian Arena Stage, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m. (no perf April 5); through April 22. (310) 903-6150, brownpapertickets.com.
Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: March 16. Continues through April 22, 2012

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