Song of the Week: Pride Month Calls for a Spring Awakening and “The Song of Purple Summer”

By Olivia Levin, Alliance Intern from American University ’25

June is Pride Month: a time of reflection, gratitude, and joy for many. Parades and community gatherings are common ways to celebrate, but for artists, June brings another inspiring event: The Tony Awards. Recognizing the most groundbreaking achievements in professional theater each year, the ceremony is a meaningful part of Pride Month as theater has long been a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community. A great example of this is the Broadway production of Spring Awakening, featuring the bittersweet finale “The Song of Purple Summer.”

Jonathan Groff, this year’s Best Leading Actor in a Musical Tony winner, delivered a heartfelt speech following his triumphant and long-deserved win. “My parents understood the life saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passion without judgment,” Groff explained, with his family sitting in the audience. He explained that his participation in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening, which has continued to touch the hearts of young audiences since its premier in 2006, inspired him to come out of the closet at the age of 23.

A Cautionary Tale of Teen Angst, Sexuality and 1890s Germany

During Pride Month, Spring Awakening’s themes of honesty and openness in the education of young people feels particularly poignant. Set in 1890s Germany, the musical utilizes a modern pop-rock score to portray the angst teenagers feel as they grapple with the challenges of growing up. Their parents shield them from important facts of life, specifically sexuality, in hopes of protecting their children from danger and sin. However, the opposite effects occur, and several characters pay the ultimate price for their naiveté. Overall, the show is a cautionary tale that urges the importance of including young people in important conversations.

I’ve seen several productions of the musical and the final song, “The Song of Purple Summer,” always leaves me feeling full of a strange melancholic hopefulness. The young characters, having just mourned the loss of their dear friends, have no idea what the future has in store for them. Though this can certainly be scary, their experiences have taught them an important lesson that will empower them to grow into a different kind of adult than their parents were. Similarly, Pride Month is an important time of reflection for young people hoping to foster a kinder world.

Though growing up can be painful at some times and jubilant at others, it is this ability to understand such a vast range of experiences that makes life so special. Spring Awakening encourages the audience to break cycles of misguided authority, corrupt education, and general miscommunications between young people and the adults responsible for introducing them to the world. Pride Month is the perfect time to consider how a kinder future begins with honest intergenerational interaction.

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