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Linfield theatre, music students present rock musical

Spring AwakeningLinfield College theatre students will lead audience members through a journey of adolescence, sexuality and exploration in the rock musical “Spring Awakening” May 2-4 and 9-11 at 7:30 p.m., and May 5 at 2 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall at Linfield.

“Spring Awakening,” with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, is the winner of eight Tony Awards and is based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play about teenage sexuality and society’s efforts to control it. The piece seamlessly merges past and present, underscoring the timelessness of adolescent angst and the universality of human passion.

This play may not be suitable for all audiences and contains mature language and subject matter.

“Spring Awakening” is co-produced by the Linfield Departments of Music and Theatre and Communication Arts. It is under the direction of Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts, with musical direction by Christopher Engbretson, visiting assistant professor of music.

The play was originally censored because of its open discussion of sex, homosexuality, child abuse and adolescent suicide in a repressed society.

“While on the surface these issues don’t sound appealing in a musical, the genius is the use of song and performance as the avenue through which the teenagers can express their innermost thoughts, weaknesses and frustrations in the backdrop of 1890s Germany,” Gupton said.

The cast consists of 11 members in addition to several Linfield students working on ensemble and design.

“I’ve been consistently impressed by our cast’s natural talent and ability throughout the rehearsal process. They have consistently risen to and often exceeded my expectations,” said Engbretson, a Linfield graduate. “I’ve been inspired and touched by their passion and drive to make this a truly excellent production.”

Both Engbretson and Gupton hope the play will stir dialogue and critical thinking around issues that are often uncomfortable and avoided.

“The material in this musical is especially relevant at this point in our nation’s history,” said Engbretson. “With debates over concepts like abstinence-only education, sexual orientation and religious freedom, this show arrives at just the right time.”

“Although dark, the musical offers a glimmer of hope for audience members that we have to listen to the voices of our children, provide them guidance and remember what it was like to be their age,” said Gupton.

Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, April 23. Cost is $10 for full price; $8 for seniors (62+) and Linfield faculty and staff (two tickets per ID); and $6 for students (any age, any school, one ticket per ID); with a $2 discount on all tickets on opening night. Seating is reserved. Tickets are available at http://www.linfield.edu/culture, by phone, or at the Marshall Theatre Box Office. Located in the Ford Hall lobby, the box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. on performance days. The box office will also be open May 4 and 11 from 3 to 7:30 p.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. The box office is closed Mondays.

The play is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are supplied by MTI; 421 West 54th St., New York, NY 10019, phone 212-541-4684, fax 212-397-4684, www.MTIShows.com.

The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible. For more information, call 503-883-2292.