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Be warned: 'Spring' not for everyone

  • Published Sunday, August 22, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, August 22, 2010, at 12:31 a.m.

"Spring Awakening," at first blush, sounds like a wholesome musical for the whole family. Tony-winning and critically acclaimed, the show was the Broadway vehicle that launched the careers of Leah Michele and Jonathan Groff from the hit TV show "Glee."

But those who go to the musical not knowing what to expect — or expecting a "Glee"-like experience — might find themselves blushing.

Tickets for Theater League's production of "Spring Awakening," a rock musical that will be performed Nov. 16-18 in Century II, go on sale Monday, and officials there are expecting a good response from Wichita's loyal legions of theatergoers.

But they also want to be sure those theatergoers know what they're getting with "Spring Awakening," said Jacob House, Century II's sales and communications manager.

The show deals with some very adult topics, including abortion, rape, suicide and homosexuality. It includes nudity, rough language and some explicit sexual scenes.

The show's a masterpiece, House said, but it's not for everyone, and the venue wants people to do their research before they buy tickets.

"We feel like we owe it to the supporters of Century II to make them aware when we know when a show contains something that could make some people uncomfortable," he said.

"Spring Awakening" is based on a controversial German play from 1891 that follows 19th century teenagers discovering their sexuality.

The show, with music by Duncan Sheik, won eight Tony Awards in 2007, including one for best musical.

The show is definitely not for children, House said, and he'd caution patrons to do some research before bringing even high school-aged kids.

The venue learned with last year's "Avenue Q," which featured salty language and puppets in compromising situations, that patrons in Wichita prefer to know what to expect, especially when what's coming might shock them.

"People this year are used to seeing things like 'Crazy for You' or 'Annie,' " House said, referring to two popular productions this summer by Music Theatre of Wichita. "And this is not that."

But, he points out, the rest of Theater League's season, which includes "Riverdance" and "Spamalot," is family-friendly.

I'm looking forward to seeing "Spring Awakening," but then again, I was exposed to Wichita theater by the late, great Eagle critic Diane Lewis, who took me to an R-rated, nudity-laden production of "Love! Valour! Compassion!" at Wichita Community Theatre in the late 1990s.

It was a great production, but we couldn't help but giggle about the naughty bits for years after.

At the time, I was shocked, speechless. I wasn't scandalized, but I was definitely surprised, and a tiny bit embarrassed, to be viewing such a production with my new co-worker.

I had no warning, though.

You do.

If you go

'Spring Awakening'

What: Tony award-winning musical that is the opening show of the season for Theater League

Where: Century II Concert Hall

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16-18

How much: Tickets are $52 and $64. They go on sale Monday at wichitatix.com or by calling 316-219-4849. For more information, go to www.theaterleague.com.

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