The Rep's associate artistic director Les Waters stages the new boy-meets-boy musical, which features music and lyrics by Matthew Sweet and a book by Todd Almond.
Opening is April 14. Here's how the Rep bills the show: "Meeting in homeroom. Holding hands. Cheering from the stands. That awkward first kiss. In Girlfriend, boy meets boy. It's an eternal story turned upside down, a dual-Romeo duet that's innocent — and Sweet."
"I've devoted my career to developing new work," Waters said in a statement, "but I've never directed a musical before. This show, which is touchingly genuine and utterly lacking in cynicism, was impossible to resist. When I first read the script, I was struck by how Todd had transformed 'Girlfriend' into a beautiful story about two teenage boys falling in love while remaining completely faithful to Matthew's brilliant music."
Sweet has been acclaimed for his pop-rock work that was influenced by such diverse artists as the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Byrds, as well as Neil Young and Big Star. His albums include "100% Fun" (1995), "Altered Beast" (1993), "Blue Sky on Mars" (1997), "Earth" (1989), "Girlfriend" (1991), "In Reverse" (1999), "Inside" (1986), "Kimi Ga Suki" (2004), "Living Things" (2004) and "Son of Altered Beast" (1994). He has recorded two volumes of duets with Susannah Hoffs, "Under the Covers I" and "II," and his most recent solo album is "Sunshine Lies" (2008).
Almond is a composer, lyricist, and playwright whose musicals include Ahraihsak with director Rubén Polendo, Kansas City Choir Boy with director Sam Gold, and the award-winning People Like Us with director Gus Kaikkonen. His upcoming shows include On the Levee, coming to LCT3 this summer with playwright Marcus Gardley and director Lear deBessonet, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle with playwright Adam Bock. Almond is currently collaborating with Warren Leight and Stafford Arima on a musical adaptation of John Knowles' novel A Separate Peace. Ryder Bach (Will) has been seen locally in Harold and Maude: The Musical at TheatreWorks, The Sound of Music at American Musical Theatre of San Jose and the TheatreWorks workshop of Girlfriend. In Los Angeles, where he plays regularly with a band called the Body Parts, he performed in Center Theatre Group's production of The History Boys and Baby It's You at the Coast Playhouse. Jason Hite (Mike) recently played Mark Cohen in Rent for Golden State Theatre Productions. He has also worked with Center Repertory Company, Contra Costa Musical Theatre, and EXIT Stage Left. He trained at the Young REP Theatre Workshop in Walnut Creek and is a proud member of the Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble.
The on-stage band features local musicians Shelley Doty (lead guitarist), ieela Grant (drummer), Jean DuSablon (bassist) and Julie Wolf (music director, rhythm guitarist and keyboard player).
The creative team includes David Zinn (scenic and costume designer), Japhy Weideman (lighting designer) and Jake Rodriguez (sound designer). The stage manager for this show is Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep's resident production stage manager.
Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage is located at 2025 Addison Street in Berkeley, CA. For tickets or information, call (510) 647-2949 or toll-free at (888) 4-BRT-TIX or visit berkeleyrep.org.