BWW Interviews: Fringe Spotlight: GENERATION ME, a New Teen Musical
Fringe has something for everyone and even the teens are getting into the act this year when the new musical Generation ME opens on June 8. Written for teens and performed by teens, this full-length musical is from the writing team of Julie Soto (book & lyrics) and Will Finan (music) and is directed by Ryan Warren.
The story follows 15-year old Milo Reynolds who has it all: a seat at the popular table, the perfect girlfriend, the "coolest" parents, and friends who worship him. So when Milo kills himself Monday morning, his friends and family are left questioning everything they thought they knew about him. Told in flashbacks, it explores the heartbreak, confusion, and guilt suicide has on those left behind. Generation ME identifies a generation more privileged, self-interested, oblivious... and more miserable than ever.
Book writer and lyricist Julie Soto took a few minutes to give us some insight into this fascinating musical. Tickets are available now.
Julie, what made you decide to write a musical about suicide?
In 2003, my best friend Ryan Warren and I co-founded Flying Monkey Productions, a youth theatre company in Sacramento, CA. After working with ridiculously talented teenage singers, actors and dancers for the last 10 years, it became clear that the material for teenagers was not challenging anymore. I tried to think of a story worth telling and the repercussions of teen suicide stuck with me.
Ryan and I came up with this story idea based on life experiences from when we were in high school and the observations we made while working with our teens. I started writing the book, Will and I collaborated on the music and lyrics, and Ryan helped me shape the story. We produced Generation ME the Musical as a one weekend workshop in April 2013 in Sacramento and we received very positive feedback. After some rewrites and new music added, we presented the world premiere this April in Folsom, CA.
Why do you think it will appeal to a Fringe audience?
It tackles very real and contemporary topics like suicide, date rape, cutting, physical abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, substance abuse, and bullying in a way that gets the audience invested in the lives of these characters. Generation ME is a very real portrayal of this generation of teenagers and if you have ever been a teenager, you will find a piece of yourself in this musical.
What will surprise them?
I think what will surprise them most is how often they will laugh out loud despite the depressing subject matter. The majority of the musical is told through flashbacks, allowing an audience to follow Milo's story and try to understand, along with his friends and family, why Milo killed himself. And also, the scene at the end of Act 1 will keep you smiling all throughout intermission!
It sounds like a good fit for the Hollywood Fringe.
Presenting GenME at the Fringe Festivals was our goal and we are thrilled to be participating in the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2014. We truly believe that the fringe theater audiences are ready to embrace this musical and its talented cast. We never set out to be public service announcement about teen suicide, but if we can open up the conversation between parents and their teens about these topics, then I believe we have succeeded.
The cast includes several teens who originated their roles at the 2013 Sacramento Workshop. They are:
Liam O'Donnell (16) as Milo Reynolds
John Novotny (16) as Cody Bennett
Madison Judd (15) as Harper Ellis
Kayla Wood (17) as Kaylee Summers
Marcus Wells (15) as Marvin Ellis
Caroline Coyle (16) as Ginny George
Breanna White (16) as Lex Harris
Nathan Duke (15) as Elliot McQueen
Additional cast members for this production include Kennedy Slocum, Michael Wells, Jenna Bergman, Christine Tucker, Cameron Reck, Jake Young, Abbott Edwards, Kassidy Henson, and Elle Berti.
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