SRU’s ‘Spring Awakening’ explores love, rocks the house


spring awakening

J​oe Karl, a theatre major from Pittsburgh, will portray ‘Herr Knockenbruch’ in SRU’s Nov. 13-19 performances of “Spring Awakening.”

Nov. 6, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Sex and love - what do they mean? Slippery Rock University's Nov. 13-19 presentation of the Tony-award winning rock musical "Spring Awakening" will explore that age-old question. The eight presentations, in the University Union Multi-Purpose Room, are for mature audiences.

"Spring Awakening," set in 19th Century Germany, tells the story of teenagers discovering their sexuality. It juxtaposes 150-year-old conventions with teenage desires for freedom of expression.

David Skeele, SRU professor of theater, is directing the production. Teena Custer, SRU instructor of dance, is the choreographer. SRU student musicians will perform live accompaniment.

Skeele said the original play, based on an 1891 book, was banned and savagely attacked because it challenged social mores of Victorian society. The contemporary version resonates, he said, because many teenagers continue to feel pressure to conform to "adult" standards.

"The genius of the play is the way it was developed as a new kind of musical," Skeele said.

Traditional musicals convey narrative with song. "Spring Awakening" features spoken dialogue and songs presented from the perspective of a teenager's private thoughts, Skeele said.

"When the show goes into song, students move into rock star mode, and the lights change to show this primal rock star spirit that was inside teenagers even in the 19th century," Skeele said.

The leading roles are played by Emily Daning, a theater/acting major Bartonsville as "Wendla Bergman"; Zachary Frye, a theater/acting major from Butler, as "Melchior Gabor"; and Earl Christopher, a theatre/acting major from Uniontown, as "Moritz Stiefel;"

Gordon Phetteplace, associate professor of theatre, is the lighting and scenery manager. Andrew Hasenpflug, dance musician, is musical director.

"Spring Awakening" will be presented at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 13-19, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m., Nov. 15.

Tickets, $7 for students and $12 for the general public, are available at the Smith Center Information Desk and the door.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |