13 January 2022, The Tablet

Parental warning

Parental warning

Amara Okereke as Wendla
Photo: Marc Brenner


Spring Awakening: A Musical
Almeida Theatre, London

Satirists have often imagined improbable theatre musicals – from “Springtime for Hitler!” in Mel Brooks’ The Producers, through a Broadway version of “Ulysses” in Anthony Burgess’ novel Earthly Powers, to “Elephant!”, a Lloyd-Webbery take on The Elephant Man, in the movie The Tall Guy.

Such jokes are rarer as almost nothing is now considered impossible to sing or dance. Burgess later wrote the Joycean romp for real and Stephen Sondheim musicalised subjects (assassinations, serial killing, pointillism) that would have shocked opera houses.

So, once only plausible in satirical fiction, a musical of Frank Wedekind’s scandalous 1906 German tragedy Spring Awakening was a Broadway and London success in 2006-09, now revived as the Almeida’s turn-of-year show.

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