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The Suburbanite
  • New musical-comedy at Kent-Stark has twentysomething appeal

  • “I Love You Because,” the student stage production opening Feb. 15 at Kent State University at Stark, puts a contemporary spin on this classic premise.

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  • Boy meets girl.
    It’s the oldest story in the book.
    Remember the one about Adam and Eve?
    “I Love You Because,” the student stage production opening Feb. 15 at Kent State University at Stark, puts a contemporary spin on this classic premise.
    “It’s about a quartet of twentysomethings living in New York City and their experiences with romance — longing for it, their disappointment and frustration over it, and the actual finding of love,” director Brian Newberg said. “It’s a musical comedy with a bit of edge and a fair amount of drama. It’s sophisticated and honest. It would be a good date show.”
    “It’s very fun and very relatable,” said Olivia Durell, who plays Marcy. “These are the kind of situations twentysomethings run into every day of their lives.“
    The show, which drew critical acclaim during its original Off-Broadway production in 2006, is loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice,” about husband-hunting sisters in 19th-century England.
    “It’s a new take on an older story. It’s set in New York City and there’s contemporary events going on, but if you know ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ you see how the characters relate to Jane Austen’s book,” said Troy Kowatch, a KSU musical-theater major whose character in the show is named Austin.
    BRUISED FROM BREAK-UPS
    For musical director Laurel Seeds, a lifelong Jane Austen fan, “It was fascinating to see how the composer and lyricist chose to rewrite this story in a very modern way using convoluted names from the book and similar situations.”
    To acquaint the young actors with the story, Seeds held a cast party at her home where they watched the 2005 film version of “Pride and Prejudice,” starring Keira Knightley.
    Afterward, “We figured out that our characters have been given aspects of many characters in the original story. Kind of a conglomerate,” said Durell, a theater major at Kent-Stark.
    The leading characters are Austin, a greeting-card writer, and Marcy, a photographer, each one reeling from recent romantic upheaval, and each with an amusing sidekick. Austin lives with his brother Jeff, and Marcy lives with her best friend Diana.
    “Austin is very set in his ways, very cleancut and a little anal at times,” Kowatch said. “At the very beginning of the show he walks in on his girlfriend and another guy. His brother tries to get him back out there but all he can think about is her.”
    “Marcy has recently gone through a breakup with a longtime boyfriend. What she is trying to do is get over him by finding Mr. Wrong, essentially,” Durell said. “It’s all about the journeys to get over these awful relationships, and finding who you are supposed to be with by accident.”
    Page 2 of 2 - POPPY, WITTY SONGS
    The musical score of “I Love You Because” has “an upbeat, poppy feel to it,” said Seeds, who will conduct the five-piece pit band. “We have six very talented students in the cast and it gives their young voices a great showcase. The songs are very catchy in their phrasing, and the lyrics are very clever.”
    The funniest song in the show, according to Durell, is “We’re Just Friends,” which is about friends with benefits.
    “The songs are some of the most relatable that I’ve come across in my time in the theater,” she said.
    For Kowatch, “One of my favorite moments in the show is a song called ‘Goodbye,’ toward the end of Act 2. It’s when Austin realizes he’s changed as a person, that he’s moved on and fallen in love with someone else and learned from his experiences.”
    Because of adult content, “I Love You Because” is recommended for mature audiences. “There’s a lot of silly, tongue-in-cheek humor, and some of it is blatantly sexual,” Durell said.
    “There’s some suggestive situations and some talk about sex,” director Newberg said. “It’s how my students talk.”