Spring Awakening, the Tony award-winning musical, opens at the Centrepointe Theatre on May 13.
Based on a German play written in 1891, the musical explores the angst of teenagers finding their way through adolescence.
The 19th-century topics — sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide, sexuality and homosexuality — remain relevant to today’s teenagers.
Mark Poppleton plays the adult men in the musical — the father, teacher, minister and parent who creates the angst the teens go through “because they ask the questions and don’t get any answers.”
Poppleton says the play makes people think about life as well as encouraging them to talk openly about teenagers’ struggles.
Sex, and the exploration of sexuality, is a large component of the play: the stark reality of sexual abuse of the daughter by the father, sex between the adult characters, between the heterosexual teens, and gay sex between two boys.
According to Poppleton it is the latter topic that has upset some of their audiences.
“People can sit through the slight nudity that is there; they can sit through the abuse; they can sit through the incest; they can sit through suicide. And then two boys kiss and people get up and leave the theatre,” he says. “It just makes me laugh that in this day and age people can sit through all that violence, all that sex, but then homosexuality is mentioned and people get up and leave.”
Ottawa is the last stop on the musical’s tour. It will run until May 15.