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With a nudge from Salon, people are reading once again about Selma Arts Center’s ‘Spring Awakening’

On Thursday I noticed that a story I wrote in 2018 about the Selma Arts Center production of “Spring Awakening” was getting hundreds of hits within hours.

My first thought was something nefarious was going on — a common suspicion among website administrators. (My last major brush with digital vandalism came a few months ago when one of my posts got turned into a laser-hair-removal ad.)

But it turns out there’s a good reason that people are reading about “Spring Awakening” this week.  A new HBO documentary about the behind-the-scenes story of the 2006 Broadway musical is making headlines across the country this week. In “Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,” director Michael John Warren follows the show on its journey from tiny workshop production to big Broadway hit. The film makes ample use of footage shot at the 15th anniversary of the show when the original cast came back to create their original roles in a one-night-only performance.

So why are readers going back to a four-year-old piece I wrote about the Selma production?

Because Slate, a national website, linked to it in an article posted yesterday about the film.

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Madeline Ducharme writes:

Where Those You’ve Known does successfully integrate the show’s development with a personal story is in Jonathan Groff’s journey to coming out as gay. Groff, raised in a religious household in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was in the closet when he took on the role of the charismatic and decidedly heterosexual Melchior. He loved the role, he said, but also lived in fear that audiences would discover from his performance that their leading man wasn’t straight. In between stories about the anxiety of the closet, Groff and Michael Mayer, the director of the original production and the 2021 reunion, and a gay man himself, share the minutiae of choreographing Spring’s intimate, controversial sex scene at the end of Act 1.

See how I linked the word “controversial” to another site? That link takes you to the Selma story. In that piece, I interview director Dominic Grijalva and cast members Kindle Cowger and Kai DiMino about what it’s like to present the show in a time when people are talking a lot more about sexual harassment and the dynamics of consent in sexual relationships. In the story, I ask: Is the encounter between a young teen girl and a boy a few years older whom she’s known for a long time a consensual one?

Selma Arts Center

A scene from the 2018 Selma Arts production of ‘Spring Awakening.’

“Ah, that’s a tough one,” I write.

The Slate article is really intriguing, and I’m certainly going to track the new documentary down and watch.

I also think it’s pretty cool that people all over the world are clicking through to read about Selma Arts Center. (Also, looking at the photos again, I’m reminded of just how good that production looked.) So to Dominic, Kindle and Kai: For a day or so, you’re all a little bit famous.


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

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