Spring Awakening, A YA Musical

Last night, I went to see Spring Awakening, a musical that won a whole slew of Tonys in 2007, including Best Musical. It’s set in Germany in the 1890’s, and all of the main characters are teenagers. The adult characters deliberately keep their children ignorant about their own bodies and sex, and the teenage characters spend the play fighting for knowledge, sometimes to tragic consequences.

I love musicals and I've loved the Spring Awakening soundtrack for a long time, but seeing it performed live was more incredible than I ever imagined. This was one of the best shows I've ever seen. So much energy and emotion, so different from most Broadway shows. For one thing, they had audience members sitting on the stage the entire time (next time, I am so going to be one of those people). 
During the performance, I found myself thinking over and over that Spring Awakening could be a young adult novel. This musical has connected to young people like none other because it speaks frankly—and often hilariously—about that which every young person strives to understand better: relationships, sex, and their place in the grown-up world.
The main character, Melchior, is so sympathetic as a teenager who sees faults in the beliefs and behavior of the adults in his life, but who is powerless to fight back because of his youth. By the end, he’s devastated by loss and disappointment, but continues to hope for the future. Spring Awakening is a hopeful story. 
My favorite character is Moritz. He’s a complicated character, completely traumatized by puberty and the unreasonable expectations placed on him by teachers and parents. Moritz is the picture of a kid who “falls through the cracks.” His songs are full of anger and angst; they’re performed beautifully by John Gallagher Jr. on the soundtrack (he won a Tony for the role), and the touring actor did a fantastic job, as well.
There are Moritzs in every high school in America, and I’m not sure the modern school system is in any better state to ensure Moritz’s success and happiness than the draconian German school system of the 19th century.
Seeing Spring Awakening got me thinking about the degree to which modern YA literature really explores topics that teenagers are thirsting to understand better, that they need to understand better. I would argue that YA readers have the most immediate needs of any age group. But, are their needs being met by what is currently produced?
This feels like an extremely pressing question, and I can’t quite answer it. There is so much quality writing out there for teenagers, but the books that get the most attention don't seem to aim for much more than entertainment. And entertainment is wonderful, but I'm not sure pure entertainment can ever be successful in meeting the needs of readers. 

Was there an equivalent to YA literature in 19th century Germany that these characters might've read? If so, the available literature failed to answer any of their questions. Some of the characters suffer terribly simply because they have a lack of information; when young people have no other resource, books should compensate for this deficit. 

I've always wanted to write in YA because I think it's by far the best genre for authors: I love the level of artistic freedom and the openness of the audience compared with other genres. But, lately I've been thinking 'What do I have to offer them?' If I'm going to write for teenagers, it means I need to write for teenagers. I want to write something meaningful that will not only entertain, but serve the audience it's intended for. 
The touring cast of Spring Awakening was completely brilliant. They’re going to be on the road, hopping between towns in the US and Canada, until May. If they’re coming to your town, you should go!

The original Broadway cast performing at the Tonys (oh yeah, and spot Lea Michelle and Jonathan Groff of Glee fame as Wendla and Melchior)