Show History



Spring Awakening, a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater, is based on the play of the same name, written by Frank Wedekind in 1891.  The play was extremely controversial at the time of its release for its depiction of such topics as abortion, rape, child abuse and suicide, and it was banned from Germany for some time.  Sheik and Sater desired to adapt Wedekind's ideas of teenage rebellion and sexual discovery to the stage, using an alternative rock score as the background.

Before premiering Off-Broadway, the musical's plot resembled the plot of the original play much more closely.  Sater and Sheik originally wrote that Melchior actually rapes Wendla at the end of the song, "I Believe," mirroring the action in the play, but decided against it to depict the scene as more loving between the two characters.  Among the other changes were the cutting of a vast array of songs; while some of those cut were just reprises of already written songs, others had the same themes as other numbers and were eliminated for time.


Spring Awakening started in flux, with a seven-year period of workshops, concerts, and numerous rewrites.  Among the notable productions in this period include workshops at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, as well as a concert at Lincoln Center.  The musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company with a run from May 19, to August 5, 2006.  Its success prompted an opening on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on December 10, 2006, directed by Michael Mayer, choreographed by Bill T. Jones, and running until January 18, 2009, with 859 performances.  On August 15, 2008, the first national tour began in San Diego; it ended on May 23, 2010, but another non-union tour ran soon after from October 14, 2010, to May 15, 2011. The original London production opened January 23, 2009, at the Lyric Hammersmith before transferring to the Novello Theatre and closing on May 30, 2009.

However, the London production was not the European premiere of Spring Awakening.  That title goes to a production at the Varmlandsoperan in Karlstad, Sweden, on August 30, 2008, utilizing completely Swedish text.  Throughout 2009 and 2010, the musical premiered in a multitude of countries and languages, including Finland, Hungary, Japan, Argentina and Australia.  2011 saw the premieres of both an Australian tour and a UK tour.  More recently, Spring Awakening premiered in 2013 in New Zealand and Portugal, and faced a production by the University of Birmingham that completely reinterpreted the script.

Cultural Influence

  • The U.S. television series, "90210," and Australian soap opera, "Home and Away," incorporated Spring Awakening into their plots.
  • Apple's Keynote, a presentation application, uses the lyrics of the song, "The Bitch of Living," on its icon.
  • The guitar that composer, Duncan Sheik, used to compose songs for Spring Awakening was included in the 2008 exhibition, "Writing to Character: Songwriters & the Tony Awards" at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  • Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's use of alternative rock and folk music encouraged other composers to use these styles in their work.  Among such future musicals that utilized the musical style as well are The Toxic Avenger and Once.
  • Spring Awakening's use of younger talent served as a budding opportunity for talented teenagers to find their way onto Broadway, virtually unprecedented in an industry dominated with parts for older males and females.
  • Spring Awakening's handling of the idea of sex in its many forms was the first in its kind for Broadway, typically known for its rather sterile handling of romance.


  • Celebrities that have starred in Spring Awakening include:  Lea Michele (Wendla), Jonathan Groff (Melchior), John Gallagher, Jr. (Moritz), Hunter Parrish (Melchior), Christine Estabrook (Adult Women), Stephen Spinella (Adult Men), Jenna Ushkowitz (Ilse), Kate Burton (Adult Women), Blake Bashoff (Moritz), Iwan Rheon (Moritz), Emily Kinney (Anna), Lauren Pritchard (Ilse), Skylar Astin (Georg), Kyle Riabko (Melchior), Phoebe Strole (Anna), Jonathan B. Wright (Hanschen), Steffi DiDomenicantonio (Ilse), Henry Stram (Adult Men), Andy Mientus (Hanschen), Aneurin Barnard (Melchior), Drew Tyler Bell (Hanschen), Alexandra Socha (Wendla), Gideon Glick (Ernst), Remy Zaken (Thea), Jennifer Damiano (Ensemble), Krysta Rodriguez (Ensemble), Joo Won (Melchior), Kim Mu-yeol (Melchior) and Jo Jung-suk (Moritz).