Horny for Actor’s Express’ ‘Spring Awakening’

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imageThat noise you hear emanating from Midtown isn’t another East Coast earthquake. It’s the (often loud) rock musical “Spring Awakening,” opening Saturday at Actor’s Express with hormonal teen characters to spare, including two gay ones.

Before its national tour started a few years ago, “Spring Awakening” ran for just over two years on Broadway and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. “Glee” made performers Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele household names, but they were both part of the original “Spring Awakening” Broadway cast, playing Melchior and Wendla, respectively.

Wendla sings the infamous “Mama Who Bore Me” in the musical’s first scene. Other notable songs from the show’s Tony-winning musician and gay hottie Duncan Sheik include “The Bitch of Living,” “The Word of Your Body” and “Totally Fucked.” Just to show how gay it is, as is the case with many a gay theater junkie, many of those who have not yet even seen the show own the cast recording.

Frank Wedekind’s play, which debuted in 1891, was especially shocking in its day, with bold sexuality and graphic themes. Over the course of the musical — which takes place in Germany in the late 19th century — there is also rape and abortion.

In the second act of the show, the two gay characters – Hanschen and Ernst — share a tentative kiss. In the local production, Jordan Harris plays Hanschen, and Bernard Jones plays Ernst. According to Freddie Ashley, the artistic director of Actor’s Express who also directs this show, one of his favorite moments of “Spring Awakening” is their kiss, with one of the characters very shy and timid and the other more assertive and assured of himself.

Other cast members include Nick Arapoglou, who starred as Princeton in Horizon Theatre’s “Avenue Q” earlier this year, Greg Bosworth, who appeared in “Pageant: The Musical!” last year and LaLa Cochran of Theatre in the Square’s “The Little Dog Laughed” as the Adult Women. One of the musical’s producers is openly gay actor Tom Hulce of “Amadeus” and “Animal House” fame.

Even with its fair share of economic woes, the theater has a long history of staging musicals and gay-friendly fare. Ashley himself was at the helm of many successful musicals such as “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Grey Gardens” and even starred as Oscar Wilde in the non-musical “The Judas Kiss.”

“Spring Awakening” opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 1. Visit Actor’s Express for more information.

imageJim Farmer is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and public relations professional specializing in film promotions. He has been a theater and pop-culture critic for more than a dozen years and is the director of Atlanta’s annual Out On Film gay and lesbian film festival.

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