Ah, First Love -- Via a Mixtape -- In TheaterWorks' 'Girlfriend'
Oh, my God,” says composer-writer-actor Todd Almond, “first love is so scary when you’re a teenager and so hard to figure out. But I think it’s also a subject that everyone can identify with, which is why this show resonates with audiences.”
Almond is talking about Girlfriend, the two-character musical that will be produced Friday, March 22 to Sunday, April 28 by Hartford’s TheaterWorks—but presented at the Aetna Theatre at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford, while TheaterWorks’ Pearl Street space is being renovated.
Teenage first love is the basis for this rock-pop chamber musical where a mixtape is the beginning of a romantic relationship between two young boys. Girlfriend takes the music of Matthew Sweet’s ’90s album of the same name and creates a show of hidden desires, romance, and longing.
“The story I wanted to tell is so tied up with that album because I listened to it so frequently,” says Almond. “That record was really a soundtrack for that time for me.”
But the coming-of-age story of two young men in the tentative early stages of a relationship in small-town Nebraska is not autobiographical, says Almond, who was also composer and co-lyricist of the 2010 Yale Rep musical, We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
“I was such a late bloomer I never had any gay high school romance,” he says. “I never fell in love until I was much older. But I did give someone a mixtape once—but that’s the end of that story.”
Still, he remembers being a vulnerable teenager “where your emotions are running wild and you don’t have enough experience about relationships—and heartbreak. Everything like that is brand new and a huge event.”