Overwhelming in its constant movement and energy

April 18, 2012.By Ed Huyck, City Pages.

Confined by the rigid constraints of their middle-class, 19th-century community and confused by the new sensations and emotions they are feeling from the depths of their bodies, the young folk in Spring Awakening burst from the harsh, concrete confines of the stage, literally climbing the walls in an effort to be free. Theater Latte Da and the University of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts and Dance bring out the excitement, passion, and danger that is ever present in the Steve Sater/Duncan Sheik musical.

Based on Frank Wedekind's play, Spring Awakening centers on three young adults: rebel Melchior, poor student Moritz, and Wendla, a young woman feeling the first flowers of passion. As they and their classmates fight against the rigidity of their society, they explore their feelings and bodies using whatever information they can glean, as their parents, teachers, and other adults aren't going to be any help. Their joy turns tragic as the production unfolds — this is definitely not a "happily ever after" musical — but its creators have infused it with an unexpected optimism for the characters left standing.

The company, a mix of local professionals and university students, bursts with energy at every turn, led by terrific turns from David Darrow, Cat Brindisi, and Tyler Michaels as the main trio. Director Peter Rothstein and choreographer Carl Fink present a piece that is overwhelming in its constant movement and energy — so much so that you want to jump out of your seat and join in by the end of the show.