30 Days Of NYMF: Day 21 ACADEMY
By John Mercurio, book, music, and lyrics
ACADEMY has been in school for some time. Much like a kid braving high school, over time, the show's voice has changed; it learned to stand up for itself and it got, well, just smarter. Much of this maturity occurred thanks to the venerable student body that passed through its oak-panelEd Halls:
Broadway and television stars such as Chris Diamantopoulos, Hunter Foster, Danny Gurwin, Stephen Pasquale, not to mention, Nancy Anderson and Julia Murney (at one point, the school admitted girls) were all involved in readings. But as ACADEMY kept studying hard to graduate to the next grade, one thing has remained constant: At its heart, the show has always been about that perilous rite of passage everyone undergoes from childhood to adulthood. ACADEMY's cast of ten boys play high school kids in an elite prep school, away from home for the first time: stoked to be on their own, but also, secretly terrified. As they wrestle with what to hold on to, and what to leave behind, they make a glorious mess of things along the way. Not that I can relate to that or anything... With this production in NYMF, it seems that after years of tutoring from so many smart teachers, ACADEMY is closer to donning its cap and gown. With a whole new cast of freshmen, a six-piece band and director John Carrafa at the helm, I'm very excited to see what happens next.
As I write this, I realize that over the years, as the show has grown and developed, so have I - yes, as a writer, but also as a man. I, too somehow have stumbled my way from boyhood (okay, youth) to being a grown-up (well, most of the time.) There have been stunning missteps, unexpected joys and somewhere along the way, the understanding that, as our hero Benji discovers by the end of ACADEMY, it's the journey, not the end, that matters most.
Working on this show has been and continues to be one of those joys.