REVIEW: Girls vs Boys (The House Theatre and AMTP)

| April 19, 2010 | 3 Comments

Cool atmosphere jilted by annoying show

 

GVB 1

 
The House Theatre and AMTP* presents
 
Girls vs Boys
 
Book/lyrics by Chris Matthews, Jake Minton and Nathan Allen
Music by
Kevin O’Donnell and Nathan Allen
Directed by
Nathan Allen
Music directed by
Ethan Deppe
At the
Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru May 9th  tickets: $15-$25  |  more info

reviewed by Katy Walsh

Break-up vs Kill. If given the consequence-free choice, would you have the uncomfortable conversation with the pending ex or just shoot him? The House Theatre, in partnership with the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University, presents Girls vs Boys. The lives of six teenagers unravel in a party world GVB 3 of drugs, alcohol, sex and guns. George wants to be cool. Casey wants to feel something. Jason wants his old girlfriend. Sam wants her brother’s respect. Kate wants Jason. Lanie wants safe sex. To get what they want, they pop Ritalin, slam beers, screw friends and fire weapons… all while singing and dancing. Girls vs Boys is “High School Musical” vs “Gossip Girl” where disputes are settled in the Wild West way.

Visual vs Audio: From the moment of arrival, the transformed Chopin Theatre is impressive. Collette Pollard has created a rock concert venue complete with mosh pit. Ticket holders are given the opportunity to join the party in the pit standing or take traditional audience seats. The band is visibly housed on the stage. The action will take place in an area extending in front of the band and encircling the pit. The ensemble will mingle with pit people during scenes. The visual is unique and the anticipation is high.

Then the music starts. The band is loud and it’s hard to hear the singing. There are two hand-held microphones shared between the six main characters. Without the hand-held ones, the entire ensemble is reliant on ear pieces that are inconsistent in volume. To compensate, some of the singing is more like screaming. The screechy tunes might not be noticeable in a rock concert but Girls vs Boys is a musical. Or is it?

GVB 8 GVB 2
GVB 7 GVB 9

Musical vs Concert: A musical is a play with songs. A concert is songs and play. Girls vs Boys is watching kids at a concert sing with the band, act impulsively and mess up their relationships. This show has a long playlist with in-between conversations that are predictable and trite. It’s similar to concert moments when the band goes  unplugged with an anecdote between songs. If Girls vs Boys was all about the music, dialogue would disrupt the concert flow. Unfortunately, the tunes GVB 5themselves are not memorable. Although the band jams rock, the singers project pop. The fusion is awkward. Even though the script dialogue is flawed, the excessive number of songs promotes a strong desire to return to discourse. “Say it! Don’t sing it!”

Singing vs Dancing: Girls vs Boys is more like a concert with great back-up dancers. Tommy Rapley has choreographed high energy numbers for the cast to dance their way into exhaustion. Climbing in and out of the pit, the ensemble has synchronized, gun-toting, dramatic vigor. Notably, whenever one of the guys takes drugs, their shirt comes off. It was oddly like a Public Service Announcement saying ‘don’t take drugs. They make you strip!’ The good news is the guys are ripped. The bad news is it feels like any Jason Statham movie where the weaker the script, the more he takes his shirt off. Shockingly, Girls vs Boys, shirts came off and I STILL didn’t love it!

 
Rating: ★½
 

Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes included a fifteen minute delayed start and a ten minute intermission

Extra Credit:

  • House’s blog entries on Girls vs Boys
  • Chris Jones lists House’s 2010-2011 Season
  • Girls vs Boys production photos courtesy of John Taflan.

*AMTP = American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University 

 

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      Cast           Creative/Production Team
Sam
Dillan Arrick
Kate
Whitney White
Lane
Nicky Scheunke
Ensemble
Jash Eskew
Ensemble
Brie DeGiulio
Ensemble
Kelley Abell
Ensemble
Danielle Plisz
Kreuger
Joel Gross
Casey
Tyler Ravelson
George
Kevin Stangler
Ensemble
Brandon Ruiter
Ensemble
Matt Deitchman
Ensemble
Travis Porchia
Ensemble
Patrick Martin
Director / Co-writer
Nathan Allen
Co-writer
Jake Minton
Co-writer
Chris Mathews
Scenic/Properties Designer
Collette Pollard
Costume Designer
Ana Kuzmanic
Assistant Costume Designer
Melissa Torchia
Lighting Designer
Sarah Hughey
Assistant Lighting Designer
Jill Bowarchuk
Properties Master
Dan Katz
Sound Designer
Brett Masteller
Composer
Kevin O’Donnell
Music Director
Ethan Deppe
Choreographer/Movement
Tommy Rapley
Assistant Director
Kelly Kerwin
Assistant Choreographer
Joey Stone
Production Manager
Jerem
Stage Manager
Kathleen Dickinson
Assistant Stage Manager
Thrisa Hodits
Technical Director
Matt Buettner
Rigging Consultant
Ryan Poethke
Rigging Consultant
Dan Monti
Master Electrician
Will Dean
Wardrobe Supervisor
Liz Wilson
Sound Engineer
Patricia Cardona
Sub Sound Engingeer
Andrew Wheatley
Production Assistant
Sean Cummings
Production Mgmt. Intern
Andrew Tolbert
Conductor/Keys
Ethan Deppe
Assistant Music Director
Nicholas Davio

3-WORDS: Also a member of the “Jason Statham can kill a man with a bicycle” fan club, James says Girls vs Boys is “after school not-so-special!”

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Category: 2010 Reviews, Chopin Theatre, House Theatre, Katy Walsh

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