Photo courtesy of Strandlighting.com
I’ve seen a lot of theatre in my day (wow, how old does that make me sound?). I first saw The King and I at the Music Hall in Houston when I was just a wee tyke. I was absolutely mesmerized watching Yul Brenner sing “Getting to Know You” with the brightly colored costumes and vibrant stage. And the fact that the actors were right there. Right. There. I was hooked.
Seeing The King and I
started a love affair with the stage that remains even today. In addition to King
, I’ve seen Mamma Mia, The Lion King, We Will Rock You, The Sound of Music, The Phantom of the Opera
(in London’s West End), Chicago
(Swoon! both the stage and film versions), Les Miserables, 42nd Street, Oklahoma, Rent
(on film – that counts, right?), Hairspray
(on film – ditto), Cats
. I loved every one of them, although I don’t really remember Les Mis
because I slept through half of it 😉 This weekend, though, I’m fairly certain I saw what may be the single best production upon which I’ve ever laid my eyes. Prior to the invtation to see the show, I’d never even heard of it. It apparently won eight Tony Awards
in 2007 (no small task) and has been playing right under my nose in Toronto since March! I just chalk that oversight up to head. in. sand.
The show is called Spring Awakening and is based on a Frank Wedekind play written in the late 1800’s of the same name. Wedekind’s plays were banned in his lifetime and were considered scandalous for the time as they dealt with such “racy” topics as puberty, sex, sexual freedoms, abuse, and death. Sounds pretty heavy, but I can assure you that a) the writing is contemporary enough that it’s relevant even today and b) this musical is the most delicious, amazing, tremendous fabulously well-made thing ever conceived!
The music is written by Duncan Sheik — yes, that Duncan Sheik. You remember…the guy from the mid-90’s who you used to sing in the shower but pretended to ignore while you were toking out to Nirvana and trying to be hip rocking the required grunge uniform of flannel shirt and cargo pants. Well, Duncan pulled the wool over all of our eyes because what he did with Spring Awakening was simply brilliant!
The Toronto show was at the Canon Theatre (gorgeous) and I was sitting second row dead center, so I got to take in all the “raciness” up close and personally. I thought it was fantastic seeing such liberating dialogue on stage, but I’m not sure the elderly citizens of Toronto the Good sitting around me were as amused.
The stage décor was so cool, the band was young, dressed in street clothes and sitting on stage, and they also sat a few audience members on stage, too! Someone please buy me those tickets! The show is raucous, toe-tapping and prodigious. And the music…THE MUSIC!! I could not get home fast enough to download the soundtrack; I haven’t stopped listening to it since so if you hear me belting out “Don’t Do Sadness”, you’ll know why. 😉 My favorite numbers are “The Bitch of Living, “I Believe”, “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind”, and my very favorite “Totally F****d”! Yeah, it’s what you think it is, but you have to see the show to get the significance. This you should do, post haste if you ask me. They even sell T-shirts that say “Totally F****d” on the back. Too much awesome. I loved it so much that I actually bought tickets to see it a second time before it closes on April 19!
I’ll stop gushing now. This show is simply stunning — I cannot say enough excellent things about Spring Awakening. Sell your car, your house, your left arm, your first born child — whatever you have to sell to in order to buy a ticket. Just go see it — and quickly!