Monday, July 1, 2019

Try Her On, She Fits Like a Glove

When you return from the beach and spend the day missing the sound of the ocean, only music will do as an antidote.

Not going to lie, it helped that a sweet, little musical set in the flannel-clad '90s about finding first love was on tap at Richmond Triangle Players. That it used nothing but the music of Matthew Sweet - and primarily off his killer 1991 power pop magnum opus "Girlfriend"  - ensured that Foto Boy and I would enjoy it immensely.

I only saw Matthew Sweet live once and that was in 1993 or '94 at the Flood Zone, a show memorable for watching a woman sit on the curb outside and barf. It's bad enough to pre-game to the point of retching, but to miss so much good jangly pop is just a crying shame.

My life has finally become the musical I always expected it to be.

Tonight's story was simple enough: two boys begin seeing each other the day that high school ends after one gives the other a mix tape. One is already aware of his attraction to boys (and bullied for it) while the other, a star athlete about to embark on pre-med in college, is just starting to acknowledge his.

What made it so achingly poignant was how deliberately slowly they acted on those desires, even something as small as hand-holding. There's a lot to be said for delayed gratification.

With a stellar four piece band - bass, guitar, drum pad and keys - onstage (and, it must be noted, two of the four were women for a change) to sing back-up, the show got off to a rousing start with "I've Been Waiting," as our descent into the '90s began.

I've been waiting my whole life for a boy to ask me to run errands with him.

There were so many great Matthew Sweet songs incorporated into the play: "We're the  Same," of course "Girlfriend" and even a personal favorite, "Sick of Myself." One of the play's running jokes was that the boys went to the drive-in movie every night to be alone, even though it meant seeing the same ultra-violent flick all summer about a nun turned super hero named Evangeline. As they continue to watch this movie, all I'm thinking is what song is coming up (duh, "Evangeline") while Foto Boy leans over and says, "I remember seeing this movie."

Well, that makes one of us.

Both actors nailed their characters and their love of music. Cooper Sved's was sweetly thrilled, a boy who feels like his life has finally begun now that someone cares for him. Ray Wrightstone had more of an arc because his character was just realizing it wasn't his girlfriend he was attracted to, so he spends time fighting his instincts (and his bullying father) but unable to deny what he's feeling. Both young actors shone, both with their acting chops and singing voices.

And since I'm constitutionally unable to go to a play set during my lifetime without critiquing its anachronisms, here goes: Princess phones were attached to walls by a cord, meaning you couldn't just take the phone anywhere. Skinny jeans were not worn with flannel shirts, nor did Vans look like that in the '90s. And I don't know for sure, but I seriously doubt that drive-ins were much of a thing circa 1991.

But one thing with which I had no quibble was the use of a mix tape to show interest and attraction. I can't speak for everyone, but I'll admit to having been wooed with multiple mix tapes back then, even when the mixes far exceeded the men proffering them.

And if anything summed up the '90s, that was it. Far better to finally find a man who could turn my life into the musical it was always meant to be.

Besides, I can make the mix tape myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment