“Six American teenagers host a sit-in protest in response to a murder committed at their high school. Live-streaming and moving their entire lives into their bedrooms, the kids tackle gun laws, the future, government, love, each other and themselves.”
A Boy Wanted To looked promising. An original musical with script, music, and lyrics written by director Taylor Broadley, the cast and crew of the show are an extremely talented group of young people. It is no easy feat to create a musical from the ground up, tackling such a strong subject matter such as gun violence none the less.
An absolute highlight of the performance was the original song ‘Out of My Mind’, with brilliant emotions and harmonies by the cast. The song has been stuck in my head since the show and I must commend the musical director for the beautiful arrangement. An extremely talented group of performers, the six stars of the show had strong voices and stage presence that should be applauded. The set design was minimal and effective, and lighting was poignant and used well.
Unfortunately, the narrative of the show was convoluted. The story and character relationships were difficult to follow, in part due to the audio issues. Backing tracks overpowered the dialogue, within and outside of featured songs, with anything sung or in a low register or spoken fast exceedingly difficult to make out above the cacophony. With 15 songs in an 80-minute performance, the plot felt like an afterthought, trying to squeeze too many themes and considerations into one show. The dialogue was clunky at times, with American accents slipping at inopportune times throughout. Due to it being opening night, audio issues are to be expected, and I hope this is rectified in future viewings.
Despite generally being a fan of controversial content that pushes the boundary of societal expectation, the warnings for this show (which have since been updated) left me underprepared for the abrasive nature of which they depict gun violence. A graphic re-enactment of a school shooting felt gratuitous and unnecessary, followed by a strangely insensitive monologue that although performed excellently by actor Noah Godsell, left me feeling unsettled and uncomfortable- and not in the good, ‘leaves you with something to think about’ way.
Overall, I commend the creation of this musical, and the obvious work put in from all parties. Unfortunately, it was a miss for me this year, although I would definitely review another show with different subject matter by this director in the future.