In December the new “rock musical” Spring Awakening opened on Broadway after a downtown run at the Atlantic Theater, and became the only show of the season to satisfy both jaded critics and large audiences in search of a bona fide hit. The hype has been considerable, with enthusiasts touting the show’s anti-Broadway rough edges and the melodic integrity of its score: its authors, Duncan Sheik (music) and Steven Sater (book and lyrics) neatly avoided the fatal musical trap of blending Broadway and rock into an inevitably bland vanilla milkshake. (This was the mistake made by the creators of High Fidelity, a big, expensive, unwatchable show that closed this winter after a run of twelve performances.)

Theatergoers may well find that the press buildup has raised expectations to an unattainable level. Spring Awakening is a good show, but it is neither as great nor potentially as revolutionary to the...


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