Get Ready to Rock: Spring Awakening Coming to THS


Tickets in one hand, playbill in the other. The squeak of the vintage auditorium seats. The beams of focused lights illuminating the ornate magenta drapes. The dusted wooden stage floor. The silence of the audience. The commotion at the front of the room. The drama. The applause. All of this formulates the environment of Tenafly High School’s very own Collins-Tall Auditorium. The new production taking form in this infamous hotspot? Spring Awakening, a PG-13 rock musical that has potential to inspire a community oriented around education.

  The THS Theater community invites all Tenafly residents to experience countless weeks of production come to life this week, when the show runs from November 18th to the 20th. This coming-of-age musical presents an array of teenage struggles: gender, sexuality, rape, suicide, and child abuse. Depicting a group of teenagers who venture through the troublesome time of sexual blossoming, Spring Awakening reflects the chilling yet very real aspects of adolescence that are so reminiscent of typical high school dramas. 

The play encompasses the sexual awakenings of teenage life, and teens’ exposure to topics such as pregnancies, nocturnal emissions, sexual orientation, and sexual abuse. With the protagonist getting an unplanned pregnancy, two characters getting abused by their dads,  two teenage boys discovering their sexuality in a conservative society, and more eye-opening experiences, Spring Awakening teaches teenagers about ways people deal with complex experiences.

Despite the mature subjects in the musical, Mr. Ahn-Cooper, THS acting teacher and director of the play, was determined to include the show in this year’s line-up. With full support of the district superintendent, assistant superintendent, and board of education, he made some minor adjustments to make the production more feasible for a high school environment. “We have kind of come up with an artistic, creative way to do some of the scenes and to do them in a more subtle way, not in front of the audience’s faces,” Ahn-Cooper said. “So they’re there, but they’re not in your face.” These production choices, as well as the requirement that all children under high school age be accompanied by an adult, have addressed in advance the mature nature of the show.

In Mr. Ahn-Cooper’s eyes, Spring Awakening is an unrivaled rock musical in the theater world, and one that he has been pushing to produce at THS for over three years. “It’s important to open a dialogue about the themes in the play,” Ahn-Cooper said. “I just think it’s very important for these students to be part of the Spring Awakening experience because the musical is about teenagers and what they go through, about wanting to get touched emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is just a way for [students] to express themselves through the music and the piece.” 

With a student performance of a play of this nature, there is expected reaction amongst the students and the broader Tenafly community. As a play that talks about teen sexuality, suicide, the LGBTQ community, and more, Spring Awakening is a production that will hit home with Tenafly students, and deeply connect to the challenges they face. “This musical is literally our lives… I really hope that the audience can understand why we decided to put on Spring Awakening,” said Grace Chung (’24), playing Anna. The THS theater community is hoping to provide a meaningful and relatable experience, in which mature content can be handled responsibly. Ms. Capone, THS health teacher, is thrilled that the student body is creating a safe space to present topics such as gender and sexuality in a theater environment. “The show itself brings up so many diverse topics that can literally relate to any or all of our students,” Capone said. “The most important thing that can come out of that is to have an environment in which a student can talk freely about their feelings and ask questions they need to ask.”

There is a lot of hope in the production of Spring Awakening, which has the potential to establish THS Theater more firmly on the map, and cause a positive impact on the student community. “I hope by people watching Spring Awakening they can see that theater is more than just singing and dancing, but that it’s touching and is a community with a lot of meaning,” Chung said.

The dates are marked on many calendars and the borough is filled with excitement. Eager to live vicariously through the lives of Spring Awakening characters? Purchase tickets here to reserve your seat.