Spring Awakening Lets Young Talent Bloom at WaterTower Theatre

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

To see the next generation of hot theater artists in Dallas, try to catch one of this weekend's last performances of Spring Awakening at Addison's WaterTower Theatre. The cast of 16 includes lots of promising newcomers, including recent Baylor grad Adam Garst, co-starring as the troubled Moritz Stiefel, one of the hormone-crazed German schoolboys in this raucous rock musical. His is the standout performance, exploding with energy and sexy intensity.

Adapted from a play written in 1891, the show alternates between quaint dialogue scenes and throbbing rock tunes composed by Duncan Sheik. Winner of numerous Tony Awards, Spring Awakening has lots to say about what happens to kids' libidos when they're denied the facts about sex. The show focuses on the teenagers, who beg parents and teachers for sex ed but only get myths and sharp rebukes in response. As a result, there are near-rapes, unexpected pregnancy, abortion and suicide.

Sounds heavy but this musical is so electric, it shakes up the musical theater form. Choreography by John de los Santos has the actors leaping, twisting, rolling and feeling themselves up as they wail lyrics by Steven Sater into their handheld mikes.

It's a lively production, directed by Terry Martin. Might not be as loud and guitar-driven as the Broadway version (you mostly hear cellos from Mark Mullino's onstage band at WaterTower), but it's a great show infused with loads of heart by this young, gorgeous cast.

Also starring Erica Harte as Wendla (the Lea Michele role), Kayla Carlyle as Ilse and Steven Pounders and Lulu Ward as all the adult roles.

We hear most of this weekend's shows are sold out, but there is a standby list each night.

Spring Awakening continues through October 23 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. Box office: 972-450-6232.

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