Julia Toto of Pennington is Wendla and Marshall McGuire of Ewing is Melchior in “Spring Awakening” at Kelsey Theatre April 6 to 15. (Photo by Robert Terrano.)

The fraught and poignant passage from adolescence to adulthood takes center stage as the theatre/dance program at Mercer County Community College presents the musical Spring Awakening.

Starring in the production is Marshall McGuire of Ewing as Melchior.

This musical will be performed at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre on Fridays, April 6 and 13 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, April 7 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, April 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.

Kelsey Theatre is located on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on April 6. (This show is not recommended for young children.)

Set in 1891 Germany, the grown-ups are in firm control—-except their teenage children have other plans. This universal story of self-discovery and sexual awakening focuses on a group of friends, most notably, the strong-willed Melchior and innocent Wendla, whose longings and curiosity draw them together, and anxious Moritz, who strives to live up to the strict expectations of family and society.

As they confront issues of morality and rebellion, they turn to each other for guidance and solace.

Their angst-ridden journey is set to the rock and roll score by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. The original Broadway production premiered in 2006 and was the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show is based on the controversial play by Frank Wedekind, once banned in Germany.

MCCC theatre/dance program coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person says that the cast features a mix of actors who are opening their own doors of communication about the messy, emotional struggles of growing up, a central theme in the show.

“We cast in equal numbers MCCC students, community members, and high school actors,” Gazenbeek-Person says. “This is providing opportunities for dialogue—not just within the comfort of our college community, but among people from around the region.”

Adds Gazenbeek-Person: “My hope is that everyone involved in this production, including the audience, will leave the theater feeling more open to talking about the pressures facing adolescents. Discussing sexuality and reproduction is still challenging for many young people and their parents. But not discussing these issues candidly can lead to some very difficult circumstances.”

In addition to Gazenbeek-Person, who is choreographing the show and serves as co-producer with M. Kitty Getlik, the production team includes director Lou Stalsworth, vocal director Laurie Gougher, music director Scott Hornick, costume/scenic designer Kate Pinner, light designer Chris Ghaffoor, sound designer Evan Paine, props mistress Madelyn Morrison Lichtman and stage manager Dennis Tolentino. MCCC Entertainment Technology students are assisting with lighting and sound.

Tickets for Spring Awakening are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $16 for students and children.

Free parking is available next to the theater. Tickets may be purchased online at kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at (609) 570-3333. For a complete listing of adult and children’s events, visit the Kelsey webpage or call the box office for a brochure.