Calvin Berger at George Street Playhouse: Get Your Glee On.
Hi everyone! I'm a 25-year old arts professional, and I have complex relationship with GLEE. I want to get that out of the way up front--Ryan Murphy's excellent new television show is at the same time a shout-out and a legacy to the perceptions of high school and growing up that John Hughes created a generation ago. And those same thoughts and feelings come rushing back in George Street Playhouse's Calvin Berger, playing now through March 14. Barry Wyner's new musical takes the classic Cyrano De Bergerac, spins it up, adds a character, and sets it down in a modern American high school.
Calvin Berger is about the challenges of fitting in; I definitely can relate to that experience, as I was not one of the popular kids in high school (although, in hindsight, who was?). In keeping with the theme, I brought my best friend from high school, Sonny, to the show and the Generation Next event following.
The point of Calvin Berger is that perception is everything in high school--no matter how cool you may look, it's a place where insecurity breeds. The popular girl worries about authenticity, the attractive jock worries about making friends, the counter-culture girl worries about the size of her butt...and our lead, Calvin Berger, has a king-size wit and a nose to match. The message here (and none of us really get this until our twenties, right?) is that no one is really cool and can do everything perfectly in high school.
It was fitting that the after-party be a Glee-themed party (or...GleeK–themed), with Glee fun facts on every table, the Glee soundtrack on the stereo, and the evening's featured cocktail, the Rachel Berry Punch (get it?), provided a little kick and a fun and fruity twist (and enjoyably bad pun) to start the evening off right.
The show was fantastic; you can--and should--read more about it here. You've got ONE WEEKEND LEFT to see it, and can click here to pick up tickets for yourself and someone you love. I'll be here when you get back
Got your tickets? Good.
I began the afterparty by chatting with party-goers about the show and their evening as a whole. It was great to meet other New Jersey young professionals who were interested in theater like I was and just learning more from new people. It's rare to have a night out where you get to enjoy a show and meet some new friends at the same time. I relished the opportunity.
Creator and composer Barry Wynberg opened the party portion of the evening with a brief, lively Q&A moderated by George Street's Marketing Director Kelly Ryman. They were joined onstage by Noah Weisberg, Calvin Berger himself. The Q&A quickly transformed into a friendly, welcoming, slightly raunchy demonstration of the clear admiration and affection between Barry and Noah; the ready-and-willing acceptance of the bromance between the two of them set the tone for the rest of the evening, as the Q&A gave way to a karaoke sing-off. Guests performed songs like “The Sign” by Ace of Base, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Bolstered by my Rachel Berry Punch and the comradery of my newfound friends, I thought “Why Not? I’ve got nothing to lose!”
My friend and the photographer for the evening, Jon Bulava, and I got our hands on the song list. We were game for anything. We decided to take a stab at “Love Shack”--the idea being you can't go wrong with the B-52s. Well, let’s just say our performance wasn’t stellar, but we had fun and I think everyone else did, too. Any evening where you get to yell "Tin Roof...Rusted" at the top of your lungs is a good one.
The evening began to wind down as awards were given for best performance-- I was happy to see Christine who sang “Dancing Queen” and Jay and The Fist Pumpers who sang “Copacobana” win and they deserved it. On a related note, if you're from New Jersey and willingly call yourself "The Fist Pumpers," you're incredibly brave and there's something profoundly wrong with you. But, no judgments--I still love you, Jay and the Fist-Pumpers, wherever you are.
We wrapped up the evening with everyone singing “Summer Nights” from Grease and “Time Warp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show – which I was a surprise it wasn’t performed yet so far. If you put enough theater people in a room with a karaoke machine, both of these songs will eventually pop out. It's a proven, written-in-stone fact.
In closing, I'd like to quickly rave about how much fun the Generation Next events are with Discover Jersey Arts. Where else can $25 get you a fun evening of a show, a complimentary drink, and an evening of fun? All in all, it was a night that felt vibrant, friendly, young, and surprising.