I've learnt some of the most profound lessons watching a theatre show.

As you sit in a dark room with a hundred or so other people, the theatre can become an unlikely classroom as you reconsider what you once found to be "common sense".

Tauranga Musical Theatre's Spring Awakening, directed by Kaitlin Spedding, captures the audience in this space.

The musical is based on Frank Wedekind's play of the same name set in Germany in 1891, and it follows a group of teenagers as they go through the tumults of coming of age.

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Let's be clear now - Spring Awakening is not your 'typical' musical. While it is sassy and upbeat, the topics of non-consensual sex, child abuse, and suicide are all touched on, along with the lack of frank conversations about the ins and outs of sex between adults and teens.

While the original play was written more than 100 years ago, the cutting content and the drivers behind these horrors remain as relevant today as ever.

While the content is challenging, TMT's production is earnest and digestible. It gently interrogates the way that society regards sexuality and how we teach teenagers about this element of being human.

The predominantly young ensemble commanded the stage with confidence, their soaring vocal performances proved strong against a varied backing soundtrack.

From slow ballads to rigorous rock, the cast belted it all out and the audience lapped it up.

The lead duo Fletcher Oxford (Melchoir) and Paraskevi Spiropoulos (Wendla) shared an organic chemistry, while Bailey Hocking brought the character of Mortiz to life with his contorted posture personifying the shame and turmoil gripping his character's soul.

Moments of comedic relief save the audience from plunging into despair and vivid coloured lighting brighten up the stage.

If anything, the way the laughs came more easily than tears mean things feel a little saccharine at times.

The moments of true visceral emotion felt shallow and skimmed over and the audience was rushed through the most distressing parts back to safety.

While theatre is a way to escape through entertainment, it also has the potential - and arguably a duty - to responsibly explore salient issues that affect our society.

Tauranga Musical Theatre has created a production that explores an issue that has endured through the ages with tact, and I'm sure it will prompt some important conversations.

The details
Spring Awakening
26th April - 11th May
Go to Tauranga Musical Theatre's website for tickets and more information.

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