“Attractive female, why can’t you look past my crippling physical flaw and LOVE ME?!”
If you are part of the 90% who got through high school having danced the pubescent wooing dance a time or two, then chances are you can identify with the above. Which is a good thing, because that’s the central premise in Barry Wyner’s ground-breaking new musical Calvin Berger which opens tonight (September 10) at The Lawler Theatre in the Southbank Theatre Complex.
Set in an American high school, Calvin is smitten with Rosanna, the most attractive girl in all of creation. Rosanna believes Calvin is just a friend and confides in him her feelings for studly Matt, who is too nervous to woo Rosanna on his own and so enlists Calvin to help with the ‘making pretty words’ part of the seduction. Meanwhile, Bret has been there all the while by Calvin’s side – pining and simply hoping against all hope that she will one day be noticed – which won’t happen because Calvin first needs to overcome his own deep-seated emotional problems revolving around an all-consuming concern for physical appearances.
That’s because this musical is a modernised port of the most famous romance story in all of history Cyrano de Bergerac, which has enjoyed various re-tellings and incarnations since time immemorial. But while Cyrano has done things like become a time-tested triumph in the literary world, Calvin Berger has something that Cyrano lacks. A killer score, a REALLY killer score, a killer book, and in this production, a killer young cast.
Though the story of this little musical extends considerably further than that. Barry Wyner was a retired high school teacher before he submitted Calvin Berger for the consideration of the BMI New Musical program, so it isn’t that surprising that he has unique insight into the wonderfully uncoordinated world of high school romance. For those of you that don’t know, the BMI New Musical program is considered by many to be the most prestigious and successful musical development foundation in the world and has produced such hits as Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, Ragtime, Avenue Q, Next To Normal, and The Book of Mormon. How fitting that an internationally recognised new musical has its Australian Premiere in a context where co-op theatrical endeavours and the Melbourne theatre district are beginning to boom.
Tonight, this four-hander OPENS for a strictly limited season of 6 shows over just three days from September 10 til 13. Calvin Berger features a savvy and dynamic young cast: Glenn Hill as Calvin (Legally Blonde, Doctor Zhivago, We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia!), Teagan Wouters as Rosanna((Rocky Horror, Beauty and the Beast, The Addams Family), Rebecca Moore as Bret (Motherhood: The Musical) and Robert Tripolino as Matt (Third World Blues, Dreamsong)
Tickets are available through the Melbourne Theatre Company website here