Monday, June 18, 2007

Spring Awakening/Teens Take Tonys

Catch up on Broadway theatre doings with Campbell Robertson. Cam is the son of UM Professor Emeritus, Ed Robertson, (Music) and has become a regular critic for the esteemed New York Times. His review of Broadway’s Tony Award ceremony which was broadcast on CBS (June 10, 2007) appeared in the NY Times the next day. You can read his review via Google or go to Carmichael Library’s database Proquest Newspapers where you can find it and the full text of Campbell’s other columns.

Campbell Robertson grew up in Montevallo and graduated in 1998 from Georgetown University where he drew his senior thesis…a comic book! After college he worked on the Metro section of the New York Times and became the first artist to contribute a comic strip within the news section of the paper. The strip was published on November 18, 2003 and follows the day of an imagined paparazzo, Lawrence Schwartzwald, as he photo-hounds Madonna. (Madonna had been in the city that week, creating the photo frenzy that always accompanies her public outings.)

The big winner at the Tony ceremonies was Spring Awakening, as Campbell reports. Among the eight statues awarded to the production was one for Best Musical. Scored by Duncan Sheik (MTV heartthrob) with lyrics by Steven Sater and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, the current production is based on German author Frank Wedekind’s play, The Awakening of Spring. The 1891 play was immediately banned. Although is was finally staged uncut in English in 1974, the play continued to meet with censorship in Europe and the U.S.

What makes Wedekind’s original play and the current musical the source of so much controversy? The play is set in late nineteenth century Germany and deals with the angst of adolescence. Abortion, suicide, and abuse are among the issues which torment the teenage characters. Teenage desires clash with adult-enforced shame and punishment. The musical, which has a rock and roll score, took the creators six years to develop and stage. Unlike the original, the musical received immediate critical acclaim and has been touted as groundbreaking.

Few libraries purchased the Wedekind play. However, if you peruse Carmichael Library’s catalog, you will find a record for the 1910 edition. Acquisition records indicate that a copy was purchased in 1931, probably at the height of its controversy when the Hitlerjugend or Hitler Youth and its fanatical ideals flourished.

For those of you who would like to check out this early and scarce edition of the play, the call number is PT 2647.E26.F8 1910.

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