There is nothing sadder to me than seeing a completely amazing show ... on its very last day. Teenage Misery, by Revisionary Theatre Collective, is one of those shows that I'd have loved to sing its praises to horror fans, musical fans, new work fans and pretty much everyone else.
But I have hopes that this amazing show will have a the long and fruitful life it deserves, Originally part of the 2013 Fringe Festival, Teenage Misery has book, music AND lyrics by Keith Hovis, who describes it as a "dark comedy musical that mashes up Bye, Bye, Birdie and Stephen King's Misery." Sold.
Teenage Misery, performed at the intimate Sandbox Theatre space (only 35 seats!), starts with college friends Carrie Black (Kelly Matthews), Whitney Fuller (Karissa Lade) and Harvey Kellerman (Jake Rahler) swearing their devotion to hot young singer Shane West (Ryan London Levin). When it turns out he's coming to town and meeting with his biggest fan, they contrive to win the contest in a most Stephen King way. From there, it goes downhill for nearly everyone. Equally avid Shane West fan and possible psychic Hannah Alloran (Whitney Rhodes) and her lumbersexual bf Richie Gibbs (Adam Rice) drive across the country to save Shane from his fans --
1) When this show started, and the cast started singing in this intimate space, I settled in with delight. There is NOTHING like being in amazingly close proximity to marvelously talented singers. No mikes, no distance, just you and the voices. And they are amazing, every single one of the six-person cast.
2) And not just that, the show is GOOD. I mean, really good. The lyrics are marvelously clever, the music is tuneful, the melodies are memorable, the arrangements are beautifully done. This show has legs, y'all. Mark my words.
Okay, a couple more things--and props to director Ari Koehnen:
1) The staging. There could not be a more challenging space than Sandbox's teensy storefront. With chairs on two sides, facing each other, with all of the action taking place in the center, it is astounding that the actors moved so beautifully and did so much in such a small space, even using the theater entrance to dramatic effect.
2) The tone is PERFECT. With horror comedy, tone is really challenging, but every member of this cast gets the tone perfect. They are utterly committed and sincere, which makes the plot and violence that much more absurd and funny. It reminded me of Minneapolis Musical Theatre's Silence: The Musical (also starring Ryan London Levin) from earlier this year. Ooh, and there's a wildly clever twist, performed perfectly.
I can't really say more except that it's a talented, committed cast performing a hilarious, clever and tuneful show and I really hope to see it again. And if there's a Kickstarter to record a cast album, I'm IN.
Want to know more? Check out Teenage Misery's fabulous Facebook page. In particular, I loved their Easter Egg series of photos explaining all of the references. And trust me, these references go deep.