Three Stories Of Couples Becoming Parents To Take The Stage At The Players' Ring
In an original musical premiering Friday, Nov. 22 at the Players Ring in Portsmouth, actors Joel King of Nashua and Aly Aramento of Londonderry, who are both 21 and a real-life couple, play the roles of Dan and Grace, recently married college sweethearts who are about the same age as the actors.
This touch of reality is just one of the ingredients that makes "Some Holiday," written by Justin Scarelli of Hampstead, so reminiscent of real life as it tells three related stories about growing up while facing parenthood.
"I think the aspect that's really powerful is how grounded in reality all three couples are," said Marina Altschiller, who wrote the lyrics and music with Scarelli. "One of the things we found through the rehearsal process is how common the arguments have been to ones we have all lived through."
Besides Dan and Grace, the musical follows the story of Sam, a commitment-phobic man who hesitates when his boyfriend Chris reveals he has a child from a previous relationship, as well as Tracy and Miles, a couple of artistic types, who must - but may not be entirely ready to - give up their performer lifestyles for their son. Meanwhile, Dan and Grace are trying to pay the bills and settle into careers when an unexpected pregnancy is thrown into the mix.
None of the couples is based on real-life relationships, but all of them reflect situations and conflicts that Scarelli had come across when he first wrote the script and debuted the story as a film in 2010 at independent theaters around New England. At the time he wrote the script he was just coming out and was exploring issues of being in the LBGT community and parenting.
"I really wanted to investigate that angle," he said, and noted he was also interested in "the struggle of young people in their 20s wanting to navigate becoming parents, growing up themselves and everything that arises from that."
King sees the relationships as "all so real" and "everything about the show so honest." "Justin and Marina have done an incredible job portraying how relationships can go through ups and downs and how they can still work," he said.
Chris Ferrill of Wakefield was cast as Chris and Trevor Gatcomb of Somersworth plays Sam. Nicole Jones of Beverly, Mass., and Jake Randlett of Portsmouth were cast as Tracy and Miles."
To get richer performances and more believable characters, Scarelli and Altschiller have changed lines and even songs to fit the people they cast. "Jacob Randlett's songs are based more in classic rock and Grace's songs are styled to a young ingénue," Altschiller said. "We changed a lot of the songs based on the cast we have and what they are able to do. They get new pages and lines at every rehearsal and then adapt immediately."
Scarelli often adjusts and revises dialogue and character moments after seeing the actors perform. "Hearing and seeing what this incredibly talented cast brings to their roles lets me add things that really play to their individual strengths and abilities," he said. As King noted, "Justin will read our energies and shape the characters based on what he sees. He will change the dialogue to be more playful or serious."
Scarelli lived in California from 2011 to 2016 pursuing working on film and television, but returned to the Seacoast with an interest in adapting the script for the stage. Knowing the musical part was not his forte, he asked Altschiller to partner with him.
"I always thought it would do well on the stage but didn't have all the skills to do it musically," he said. "I surveyed my friends about who would want to be so daring to help me and Marina's name came up." They connected in January of this year and have been collaborating ever since.
The musical will run through Dec. 1.
Gather, the not-for-profit organization which services low income people in the Seacoast, is partnering with the Producer and the Players' Ring for the performance at 3 pm on November 30. Patrons will be invited to make donations and part of the proceeds will be offered by the Producer to Gather's cause.
In addition to producing the show under the production company "Rogue Productions", Scarelli and Altschiller are recording an album of song selections. To offset costs of the show and the album and to help compensate the musicians, technicians, and cast, they have launched a crowdsourcing campaign at IndieGoGo https://igg.me/at/someholiday.
King admitted that for him and Aramento being in this show is a bit like "looking into the future." Only thing is that neither of them has any interest in having children. "It's challenging," he said, "to play such similar characters, and yet having different ideas regarding where they should be going in their lives."
"Some Holiday" will be performed from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1 at the Players' Ring Theatre at 105 Marcy St. in Portsmouth, with shows on Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm.
A "Talkback," which gives the audience the chance to discuss the performance and engage with the actors and directors, will follow the 3 pm performance on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Tickets are $20 with discounts for students, seniors, and Players' Ring members. Reservations can be made at playersring.org or 603-436-8123.
Some Holiday is partnering with GATHER. They will be present at the Ring for the performance 3 pm Saturday, Nov. 30. Donations will be welcome.