Shorewood High School spring musical choice is a controversial one

SHOREWOOD (WITI) -- Shorewood High School says it's the first public high school to perform the musical "Spring Awakening" -- and it is not without controversy.

The musical's director says Shorewood High School has a history of pushing the envelope when it comes to theater. Last year, they performed another controversial show called "Avenue Q."

Set in 1890s Germany, but featuring contemporary music, the show tackles issues like sexuality, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and abortion.

"It really revolves around the perils of parents not having important discussions with their children about their bodies and about sexuality," "Spring Awakening" Director Joe King said.

King says the performance of the musical has been tamed for high schoolers, but still includes profanity and implied sexual acts.

"It's staged artfully and delicately, so things are suggested rather than shown explicitly," King said.

The show is drawing criticism from some folks who would rather the school select a more family-friendly show.

"Spring musicals -- people are looking forward to bringing their children and introducing them to theater," Barbara Spalda said.

Spalda sat in the fourth row at last weekend's opening, and left early.

"We've been season ticket holder and for this particular production, I was ashamed to see my name in the program. They did a wonderful job, the acting and the singing, it was strictly the content of the play," Spalda said.

King says most of the feedback he has received has been positive.

"It's has been about 95% positive and 5% negative to be quite honest," King said.

The school anticipated this being a controversial show, so they had parent consent forms for actors and held a community forum in March. A talk-back session was held with the audience last weekend, and another is planned this weekend.