[A little arts meta-coverage from OTI Magazine this morning. Enjoy! —Ed.]
The ad presents us with four young-person stereotypes. From upper left, clockwise: the Nerd, the Hipster, the Jock, and the Stand-In for the Writer. But what’s really striking about this poster is the question it asks up top:
What happens when two 23-year-old writers create a show about four 20-year-old guys?
Let me start by saying this: I don’t understand the question. I mean, presumably, it’s supposed to fill us with insatiable curiosity. It’s supposed to make us say, “By God, I have no idea what happens, but I must find out!”
But “What happens when two 23-year-old writers create a show about four 20-year-old guys?” is essentially the same as “What happens when two 23-year-old writers write about themselves?” And 23-year-olds writing about themselves constitutes fully half of the internet. It isn’t exactly the groundbreaking theatrical experiment this poster seems to think it is. What puzzles me is, why would whoever designed the poster assume that this question would intrigue ANYONE?
Just for fun, let me give you a few examples of questions that actually WOULD spark my interest on a poster for a musical:
- “What happens when a 90-year-old woman writes about a civil war on the moon in the distant future?”
- “What happens when a group of 5-year-olds are told to describe the adult world, and those observations are set to music by The Neptunes?”
- “What happens when the conductor of the New York Philharmonic decides to adapt Romeo and Juliet as a musical about modern day gang warfare?”
But the poster is convinced that it’s got a winning hand in playing up the fact that the writers are 23. That brings us to the copy in the middle:
They say you should write what you know, and everything else will fall into place. Two young writers named Nick Blaemire and James Gardiner have done exactly that. In January, their musical debuted at the Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C. to overwhelming acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Naturally, after all the raves and ovations, there was only one place to go.
I’m going to assume that Nick and James wrote this copy themselves. Actually, I’m going to assume that some ad guy copied it off of Nick’s webpage – because this doesn’t seem like poster copy. It’s not short and memorable, and honestly, do we need to know their names?
And look, it’s possible my reading is colored by my own status as a struggling writer, but after, “Naturally, after all the raves and ovations, there was only one place to go,” does anyone NOT want this musical to fail miserably? Oh, and don’t even get me started on why they chose to bill this as “a new American musical.”
So by now, you’re curious to hear what this show is about, right? Well, according to Wikipedia:
Four high school friends meet one night, a year after graduation, on the high school football field’s bleachers. During that year, they have each pursued separate avenues as they move into a new generation. They try to catch up with each other’s new lives at college and reminscence about the simpler, more optimistic times, during the “glory days” of high school. Led by Will, the friends plan to play a practical joke the next afternoon on their former jock classmates at a charity football game using the sprinkler system. One of the friends, Jack, reveals that he is gay, and Andy feels hurt that Jack never told him the truth about his sexuality. Other complications arise as Jack has feelings for Will, and Will breached a confidence of Andy’s. Eventually, Will realizes that he must put his desire for revenge in the past and go forward with his live as the others have done.
So it’s an episode of Dawson’s Creek, but with no eye-candy, and lots of pop rock ballads.
Now, I sincerely hope that Fenzel and/or Wrather responds to this post at length, because they’re the resident experts when it comes to college theater. And make no doubt about it – what we have here is a piece of college theater. Only difference is, instead of costing two bucks, this costs $97.50 (more than a dollar per minute, FYI). But anyway, I seem to recall Fenzel once telling me that in any work of college theater, the odds of one of the characters coming out of the closet increase the longer it goes on.
Finally, since I know nobody on this blog has $97.50, I’m going to do you a favor and present “Glory Days,” the abbreviated script:
EXT. FOOTBALL FIELD - NIGHT The Nerd, the Hipster, the Jock, and the Stand-In enter separately and greet each other warmly. Then they sing: STAND-IN So what have you been up to? HIPSTER You mean besides your mom? ALL Isn't it great we're all still friends? NERD You've gained some weight I see. JOCK Well, mostly in my dong! ALL Isn't it great we're all still friends? NERD I went to college! JOCK I went to work! HIPSTER You're flush with knowledge! STAND-IN You're still a jerk! ALL It sure is great we're all still friends! Still friends! NERD I need to tell you something. Don't take it the wrong way. This bowtie ain't for nothing. I'm gaaaaaaaay! ALL Gay! Gay! Gay! We're totally shocked! JOCK My homophobic world is truly rocked! ALL Our group will never be the same again! STAND-IN I'm kind of hurt you took this long To tell us you like men in song. HIPSTER I say sarcastic things every once in a while! NERD I guess I was afraid, I'd lose the friends I'd made. Can we still hang out and joke? Now that I Netflix "Queer As Folk?" The Hipster, the Jock, and the Stand-In confer. ALL THREE You're still our friend! NERD I'm still your friend? ALL THREE We're totally behind you 'til the end! ALL We'll laugh and talk about old times! And muse about our lives in rhyme. We'll go our separate ways, But hold on to our Glory Daaaaaays! They all turn to the audience and walk to the front of the stage. ALL We're grown-ups now! We're so mature! We're so damn wise you'd think we all were twenty-four! This field is where our childhood ends! But isn't it great? (Yeah, isn't it great!) Isn't it so damn great... Isn't it great we're all... still... friends! Gloooooor! Eeeeeeee! Daaaaaaaaays!
[Ed. Note: Though it had enjoyed a successful run out of town, the Broadway production of Glory Days—that of the ubiquitous and annoying poster—closed after its opening performance, joining 2003’s The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All in that unfortunate distinction. This article was written before the closing.]