In no particular order, here are five things that struck me at closing night of UCSD’s 2017 Muir Musical, Spring Awakening:
One, I didn’t see a lot of cell phones flashing in the darkness, which I would normally expect at a college campus. This gives me some hope for humanity. Who says the kids these days are too checked out to sit through and enjoy an entire play without Snapchatting something?
Two, sometimes I wish we still learned everything we need to know in school by reciting Virgil from memory, as do the play’s fin de siecle students. Imagine if the SAT was just a terse meeting with a grouchy German, who berates you if you mess up your Latin declensions, and then decides whether you get to go to college based on nothing more than his personal opinion of you as a human being. Brutal, right? But also kind of awesome.
Three, it never ends well when precocious youth characters draw inspiration from Faust.
Four, I forget how fun closing night can be. Journalistic pragmatism dictates that the theater critic, as well as we pretenders to the throne, see shows on or around opening night, but the energy is different at the end of a show’s run, and in a lot of ways it’s like a different production.
Five, putting on a show like this is possibly the most important thing these students will do during their academic term, even if they don’t realize it for years to come. It won’t necessarily pad their résumés for success in corporate America, and it won’t strictly convince their helicopter parents that the tuition dollars are really paying off, but it will (or at least it ought to) give them a taste of what it feels like to achieve something real in front of their peers. There’s no substitute for getting it done, whatever “it” is, when everybody’s watching and the performance counts. Education often misses that point, which is too bad.