By Chung Ah-young
The Tony Award-winning musical ``Spring Awakening'' has a lot of things the Korean audience has never experienced before ― strong language, brief nudity and adult themes.
The powerful coming-of-age story, which has electrified the local musical scene, is a daring and expressionistic depiction of teenage self-discovery.
The musical has been the talk of the town among musical buffs and critics since opening at Doosan Art Center on July 4.
With a cast of Korean musical stars, the musical is based on Frank Wedekind's controversial German play of the same title, written in 1891, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Steven Sater.
The show deals with such taboo subjects as teenage pregnancy, sexual and physical abuse, and homosexuality. The original play was banned in Germany due to its portrayal of masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide.
The plot focuses on a group of teenagers coming of age and their questions and curiosity. Central to the story are Wendla (Kim Yu-young), a young girl whose curiosity about the mysteries of the body is stifled by her mother; Moritz (Cho Jung-seok), an intense young man kept awake at night by dreams he considers disturbing; and the extremely intelligent Melchior (Kim Mu-yeol), who assures Moritz his dreams are perfectly natural.
One afternoon ― in a private place in the woods ― Melchior and Wendla meet by accident and soon find themselves dealing with new desires.
Meanwhile, Moritz flounders and fails out of school, to his father's contempt. When Moritz writes to Melchior's mother for money to flee to the United States, she tenderly rejects his request and instead promises to tell his parents not to discourage him. But he is left so distraught that he commits suicide.
Later, Wendla and Melchior meet in a stuffy hayloft and fall victim to their curiosity. As a result, Wendla gets pregnant and her mother forces her to have an abortion. Meanwhile, Melchior is sent to reform school by his parents.
Accompanied by a score based on alt-rock and pop, the musical is driven by the monologues of its characters, which depict their internal struggles through outspoken language rather than through dialogue.
Cho Jung-seok was pitch perfect in his portrayal of the nervous, timid and intense young Moritz, and often stole the spotlight.
The musical was electrifying in its use of visceral rock songs such as ``The Bitch of Living.'' Also, the show didn't hesitate to reveal partial nudity or hold back on sexual behavior.
At the same time, the musical masterfully revealed the inner struggles of its characters, a credit to the musical score and the actors' performances. The show's score is composed of contemporary styles despite the show's setting in 1890s Germany.
The musical is on stage at Doosan Art Center through Jan. 10, 2010. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 80,000 won. For more information, call (02) 744-4011.