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'Spring' is Sprung

June 18, 2009 By:
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What are they all talking/singing about? Could it Be Blake Bashoff's (right) electrifying performance in "Spring Awakening"?

"Spring Awakening" slips it to the summer solstice with a splash of cold water as a bracing refresher course in the age-old contretemps over social/sexual intercourse among the young.

Adapted from a century-old play by Germany's Frank Wedekind, this new snap on an age-old pair of suspenders is germane and generational in its pull.

It rocks and roils, too, with a score that is so off Broadway standards that it set its own on the way to scoring eight Tony Awards in 2007.

And, as this très chic Duncan Sheik/ Steven Sater musical does "Spring" forth into contemporary arguments while falling back on 1891 German concerns, it proves a timely tumultuous time machine and wizardly wake-up call for audiences at its Philadelphia premiere, June 23 to June 28, set for the Academy of Music.

A mischievous musical whose leitmotif of sexual discovery found itself among the avant garde and audacious on Broadway has a real find as well in Blake Bashoff, the Philadelphian whose straight path to the top started with "Twist," a musical at the Walnut Street Theatre.

Please, sir, may I have some more ... roles?

Bashoff, 28, didn't go begging for work. Others his age may have been cast aside by Hollywood, but insiders reeled him in for movie and stage work.

And now that he -- or rather, his character, Karl -- is officially (or as officially final as anything happens on "Lost"), dead, Bashoff finds life again on stage, as the moody, mopey Moritz Stiefel, the self-stifled adolescent with sexual-identity issues that have him pulling his hair out.

If he could reach it: Bashoff's electrifying performance is only out-jolted by the character's hairstyle, a hirsute high-five to the high heavens that looks like it short-circuited on its long unsuccessful search for a comb.

Ah, the hair, says Bashoff with a "ha."

"I do a lot of hats and hoodies to cover it up offstage," he says, all the while uncovering his character on stage, a role he stepped into in December 2007, marking his Broadway debut replacing the Tony Award-winning John Gallagher Jr. in the part.

"Spring" bored after so much time?

"Oh, no; I enjoy exploring characters so different from the way I am," relates the actor.

Moritz opines on stage that "I don't do sadness well," and, sadly, he's right, finding just the tunnel, not the light at the end of his life's journey.

It was never that dark at George Washington High in the Northeast, was it?

"Moritz identifies as an underdog, an outsider; I never felt like that," says the former star of TV's "Judging Amy."

"I came from a great family," says the son of Irene and Ken Bashoff, "and as crazy as Hollywood can be -- I've played some far-out characters -- I'm such a normal person."

Not that he hasn't gone against the odds at times. After all, Haftorah amid high-rollers -- perfect together?

Yes, he became a Bar Mitzvah at none other than Lake Tahoe in Nevada -- "We flew my bubba and zayda out" -- but that's because he was shooting "Bushwhacked" there at the time, with Temple Bhat Yam serving as stand-in for his hometown base at Adath Tikvah-Montefiore.

Now he returns the favor, coming to Philadelphia, and is thrilled "to come home and see my grandparents, finding some quality time to spend with them," as well as his own folks, of course, whom "I still call every time, with every career decision I have to make."

Make no mistake, this Father's Day will take on even more meaning, being back home where family ties are the best present ever.

What matters most, he avows, is "family, friends and spirituality."

It all makes him spirited even now.

"They're the real world," says the seasoned "Spring Awakening" star, "at home on Broadway or in Hollywood."

Or for that matter, he says with an energy that would mortify Moritz, in Philadelphia.

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