"Spring Awakening" musical coming to Tyler, sparking controversy

"Spring Awakening" musical coming to Tyler, sparking controversy

A popular musical is making some parents uncomfortable with its East Texas debut. The people involved in producing it are challenging those who are upset to expand their horizons.

Auditions wrapped up Tuesday for "Spring Awakening" at the APEX Theater. The show won't be ready for the public for another three or four months.

Its story is one about coming of age; the script calls for some suggestive scenes and nudity. And it's not your average musical. One of main anthems is called "Totally F****d." In the theater it's not censored and neither is the very open portrayal of sexuality.

"I don't think we necessarily have to go out and throw and picket," Marvin United Methodist Church Director of Students Jake Womack said. "I think we can do enough by going out and saying my child's not going to be a part of this. The first question is as a Christian, as a follower of Christ, how does this glorify him?"

Womack said "Spring Awakening" in East Texas is just a symptom of a changing world where temptation is everywhere.

"You don't like what the play is about?" APEX Entertainment Executive Producer Chris Abraham asked. "Well then don't buy a ticket."

Abraham subscribes to the theory that theater should push boundaries.

"And you shouldn't be shocked by that value of it," he added.

"Any nudity on the stage is going to be more suggested than in your face, you know, because that's not the point of the show," show director Matthew James Butler said, adding that he had heard no criticism personally. "It's been a resounding yes, honestly."

Butler went on to defend the show as something more important than a few racy scenes.

"Whether it be suppression or whether it be a lack of self confidence or any of those things that this play touches on, the youth in this community are ready for something to grab on to," he said.

Still, the casting call is raising eyebrows. It's filled with notes to be comfortable with nudity, same-sex intimacy, and simulating sexual behavior. It also contains a note about allowing 17-year-olds to audition with parental permission.

"As a student minister when I think about a parent signing off on this it really, red flags go way up in the air for me," Womack said. "To think that a parent would be endorsing this."

Butler and Abraham said Monday they've re-considered and that these roles will only go to people 18 and up.


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