Blue and white stage lights illuminate the stage as audio clips of media coverage on recent and famous shootings play in the background. Audience members watch with rapt attention as the cast of Spring Awakening reappears from backstage, now dressed in modern activist T-shirts. “All shall know the song of purple summer,” choruses the cast, receiving a standing ovation.
Me + You Productions’ “Spring Awakening,” a musical adaptation of the 1891 play “Spring Awakening” by Frank Wedekind, tells the tale of adolescents in 1890s Germany, revealing the consequences of growing up in a repressive and ultra-conservative society that forbids all sexual conduct. The original 2006 Broadway production won eight Tonys, one of which was “Best Musical.”
Sitting in the middle seat of the front row on opening night, I was extremely impressed by Me + You Productions’ socio-political spin on “Spring Awakening.” The level of intimacy with the audience caused goosebumps to appear on my arms when Andrew Gleckler, starring as Melchior Gabor, chose to sing his first song, “All That’s Known,” while making direct eye contact with everyone in the first row. Furthermore, the amount of sophistication displayed by the cast never ceased to astound me, considering that the only furniture they had to work with were chairs.
The aspect that I respected the most, however, was the play’s overarching push for gun control. Signs with quotes from victims, statistics on recent shootings, and more were utilized to create the stage’s background, and Me + You Productions plans to donate 100 percent of ticket proceeds from this production to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization who aims to reduce gun deaths in the wake of increased mass shootings.
As a teenager growing up in a time period where school shootings seem inevitable, I cannot help but be frightened when I realize how desensitized my community is to violence. Because of social media’s tendency to over-dramatize and the increased occurrence of shootings, teenagers are often either too aware or completely ignorant of the dangers they face. Attending the play gave me great relief to know that there are adults actively advocating for gun control.
“Spring Awakening” delves deeply and poignantly into the issues that our society faces today,” said Asha Noel lyer, Me + You Productions Founder and “Spring Awakening” Producer. “I wanted to tangibly affect the world, and I chose to do this play because I couldn’t get over the parallels. We live in a world that doesn’t protect its youth, and that is directly what the show is about.”
Me + You Productions is set to close out their three-week running of “Spring Awakening” this weekend at The Lounge Theatre in West Hollywood. Tickets are sold on their website: https://springawakening.brownpapertickets.com/.
Photos courtesy of Gigi Greene Photography