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‘Girlfriend’: A little slice of gay teen life

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Modern musical theater tends to be showy--think ‘Fela,’ ‘Billy Elliot,’ ‘Wicked'--if not sometimes a little bit over the top. But for every proposed budget-busting ‘Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark,’ there can be a new, intimate, even personal musical. And that’s what the Berkeley Repertory Theatre (which recently launched the much flashier ‘American Idiot’) is trying to do with ‘Girlfriend.’

Les Waters, who is directing the musical about two high school boys’ fledgling relationship, wants to make sure that ‘Girlfriend’ doesn’t feel overly polished, ‘That it doesn’t look too thoroughly worked-out,’ he says. That uncertainty, he says, is essential in capturing ‘the sheer humiliation of talking about anything when you’re a teenager.’

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Book writer Todd Almond (the music comes from the 1990s recordings of singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet) says that even though the story is very much about adolescence he is hopeful ‘that anyone older than a teen will see themselves in it.’ Some of the musical’s early reviews have been favorable, suggesting Almond and Waters might be succeeding in their intentions.

For a closer look at how the show came together, take a look at my story on its creation.

--John Horn


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