Open: 01/16/12- Close: 01/16/12
Twilight: The Musical|
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Heather Violanti
TWILIGHT: THE MUSICAL—a parody of the blockbuster vampire series—will be staged in a benefit concert at New World Stages on January 16th at 8 pm. Frequent Theater Online contributor Ashley Griffin wrote the book and collaborated on the show’s music and lyrics with Jeremy Ezell, Sean Mahoney, David Mallamud, and Michael Sutherland. Gabriel Barre directs. All proceeds from the concert benefit Blessings in a Backpack (www.blessingsinabackpack.org), a program designed to feed elementary school children in need. Tickets are available via the New World Stages box office or Telecharge (www.telecharge.com/BehindtheCurtain.aspx?ProdID=8718).
Not only does TWILIGHT: THE MUSICAL have a heart, it also has a brain. As Griffin explains, there’s more to the show than just parody. It’s also a biting commentary on the obsessive nature of American pop culture.
“I read the first Twilight book under duress in the summer of 2009—I believe the last book had just come out, and there was a lot of press hype about the series, so I was reading it against the backdrop of seeing very passionate fans on TV every night….Around the same time, I read a wonderful book by Timothy Keller called Counterfeit Gods about our culture of obsession. I saw the obsession of not only Twilight fans, but fans of so many things in our pop culture, from rock musicals to Harry Potter. Twilight itself is the story of obsession. About a girl who gives up everything to be with this boy she’s in love with. I suddenly thought it’d be really cool to do a loving parody musical with a heart, and a message—to use it as a commentary on our culture of obsession, but in a really fun way. From there, images just fell into place—and I outlined the show in about a day,” wrote Griffin via email.
The show finds humor in sincerity, while also searching for a deeper meaning behind the laughs.
“[It’s] very much a parody—but a parody that bases its humor in taking everything way too seriously, not pulling a bunch of gags. I don’t believe in mocking, or making fun of something. If you’re going to parody something—you have to love it. Or at least understand why other people love it, and honor that, while at the same time holding a mirror to the things we maybe need to take a closer look at,” Griffin said.
She points out that the American musical is rooted in the satiric tradition.
“You must keep in mind, the Great American Musical was born out of comedy, parody, and satire. Musical theater is a combination of turn of the century burlesque and ethnic theatre, combining with operetta. Almost every major composer of the Golden Age of Broadway got their start in what were in their day SNL-like musical theater parody revues. Parody and musical theater have gone hand in hand since the dawn of Broadway…Starting with THE PRODUCERS comedy in musical theater found its groove again on contemporary Broadway, and I think we’re just starting to embrace it with a modern sensibility—and one of the ways that’s translated is in a modern version of the musical theater parody” she said.
The show’s songs have a rock edge.
“For some reason, as I read I kept picturing the kids from SPRING AWAKENING pulling out their mics, but instead of singing about really serious issues, they were singing about vampires. If there’s one thing rock musicals and Twilight share—it’s angst,” Griffin said, explaining the show’s musical inspiration.
“It has a strong rock musical vibe (think SPRING AWAKENING, RENT, or NEXT TO NORMAL) and parodies that genre as well. But at the end of the day—it’s really good music that you’re going to want to keep listening to,” she added.
Griffin and her team have been heartened by enthusiastic audience support.
“So far the fans’ response has been overwhelming and wonderful—and the show hasn’t even happened yet!” Griffin said, adding that she hopes the show will entertain both fans and non-fans alike.
“I really think if you love Twilight, you’ll love this show, and if you hate Twilight, you’ll love this show,” she said.
New World Stages : 340 West 50th Street