We’re frankly not sure what to make of XY the new musical in development which is being staged this weekend (February 14th to 17th) at Issaquah’s Village Theatre as part of their Beta Series where new musicals are given workshop productions.
XY is a new piece that centers on an intersex main character not very imaginatively named “Chris”. Here’s the problematic way they’ve been describing the show in their publicity:
Chris can’t shake Christine. Everywhere Chris goes, there’s Christine staring back when he looks in the mirror. But when Chris falls in love for the first time, the divide between then and now starts to blur. XY is a stirring musical drama about letting go of the past and coming home to the most unfamiliar of places: ourselves.
That description is vague and confusing. And, frankly, they make “Christine” sound like a nasty skin rash that Chris is trying to get rid of. On initial reading, it sounds like a clumsy attempt to describe a transgender character but upon research, the “Chris” character is apparently intersex meaning a person born with any number of physical differences in gendered characteristics that can include chromosomes, hormones and genital variations that can belong to either “female” or “male” identified bodies.
And, it’s a musical.
It has talented people attached to it and the show has its supporters. They have a “gender consultant” on board so hopefully that means that an actual intersex person is involved with it in some degree. It’s definitely one of those kinds of shows that will either succeed or…crash into a burning wreck of devastation and horror to equal the Hindenburg disaster.
We also don’t know what to make of that logo…it looks like robot child Vicki from the horrifying 80s TV show “Small Wonder” has somehow managed to get herself stuck inside of some random dude.
Village Theatre kicks off the next series of Beta Productions with XY, a new musical written by Oliver Houser and developed and directed by Hunter Bird that runs at Village Theatre’s First Stage Theatre in Issaquah from February 14 – 23, 2020. The production marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration between Village Theatre and Seattle Rep, who will continue development of the show in a future season.
A truly unique partnership between two regional theatre powerhouses, the collaboration between Village Theatre and Seattle Rep came after both organizations witnessed an early reading at The National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals in October of 2018. With the support of commercial producers Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff (Come From Away and Memphis), XY continues its developmental journey through both Village Theatre and Seattle Rep, which will eventually lead to a world premiere production. “After both theatres expressed interest in the show,” said Village Theatre Associate Artistic Director Brandon Ivie, “it made sense to work together and capitalize on the strengths that each organization has. Developing musicals is a difficult and long process. It’s wonderful to partner with Seattle Rep as we bring this show to life.”
After a successful reading at The 2019 Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, the upcoming developmental Beta Production of XY will allow the creative team to test the show in front of savvy theatregoers using simple sets and costumes. After each performance, audiences are invited to ask questions and share feedback, which can result in changes between each performance. “So much of this show has been conceived statically,” said writer Oliver Houser. “There’s only so much we can do at readings and behind music stands. This developmental production will allow us to discover how the show moves with our actors onstage, and also how it moves with an audience. It’s a thrilling opportunity.” Once the Beta Production closes, Seattle Rep will continue to develop the show in a future season.
The cast for the Beta Production includes New York-based actor and comedian Peter Smith (Shrill on Hulu, Diana at Ars Nova), and Seattle favorites Beth DeVries (Les Misérables), Sara Porkalob (Gregory Award-winning creator of The Dragon Cycle), Justin Huertas (Gregory Award-winning creator of Lizard Boy), and youth actors Tristan Hagen (Matilda) and Mikayla Sanchez (Matilda and The Passage). Joining writer Oliver Houser and director and developer Hunter Bird on the creative team are co-music directors Michael Nutting and Julia Thornton, and gender consultant Josephine Kearns.
An uplifting musical about identity and coming to terms with your past, XY will run at First Stage Theatre in Issaquah February 14-23, 2020. Tickets are $30 ($25 for youth and senior), and additional discounts are available for Village Originals Members. For more information visit www.VillageOriginals.org.
Additional Show Information:
An uplifting musical about identity and coming to terms with your past.
February 14 – 23, 2020
By Oliver Houser
Developed and Directed by Hunter Bird
Music Direction by Michael Nutting and Julia Thornton
Gender Consultation by Josie Kearns