Two Couples, Same Ache: Musical Married Alive! Gets World Premiere in KC

News   Two Couples, Same Ache: Musical Married Alive! Gets World Premiere in KC Married Alive!, a new musical comedy that charts wedded bliss — and blisters — from the perspectives of wide-eyed newlyweds and jaded oldyweds, gets its world premiere in Kansas City March 3.
The cast of Married Alive!
The cast of Married Alive! Photo by Shane Rowse

American Heartland Theatre is carrying the musical across the threshold, to April 16. Lyricist-librettist Sean Grennan and composer Leah Okimoto, both New Yorkers, have been in residence for rehearsals.

Paul Hough directs, with musical direction by Anthony T. Edwards. The company includes Ginette Rhodes (Off-Broadway's I Love You, You're Perfect, No Change) as newlywed Erin; Todd Alan Crain as newlywed Paul; Kansas City favorite James Wright (AHT's Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) as middle-aged Ron; and Kathy Santen (Broadway's Les Miserables, Chicago's Wicked) as his wife, Diane.

"From babies to empty nests and job stress to domestic bliss, Married Alive! is a funny and affectionate outrage," according to AHT.

Song titles include "Stupid in Love," "It Starts with Socks," "Oh Knocked Up," "Always Right, Always Wrong," "The Lucky One" and "Oh We Owe Money," among others.

The writers have discovered new things in rehearsals and have tackled rewrites in Kansas City, Grennan told Playbill.com. Set design is by Del Unruh, sound design is by Roger Stoddard, Bill Christie is stage manager, lighting design is by Shane Rowse and costumes are designed by Jon Adams.

Grennan's work includes Phantom of the Country Opera (published by MTI and produced by Marriott Theatre in Chicago), Ms. Cinderella (Marriott Theatre) and The Ho Ho Ho Show. His musical Rodeo was a finalist at the L.A. ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Festival in 2002 and, subsequently, was the sole ASCAP-sponsored work in the Perry-Mansfield "New Noises" festival in Steamboat Springs, CO. He also penned the non-musical comedy Luck!

Okimoto has been composing for musical theatre since she moved to New York City, after graduating from Harvard. The Genesius Theatre Guild presented an evening of her work in New York City in May 2003. Her family-friendly musical Just So was produced in February 2003 by Open Door Repertory Theatre in Oak Park, IL.

"This show, more than any other I've worked on, has been a work of the heart," Grennan said in production notes. "I'm a big fan of marriage. I try not to take it for granted. I think people who do are called divorcees. I do think marriage is difficult. Maybe some aren't worth hanging on to, but nevertheless I think it's a very worthwhile thing to do with your life. However, I do think expecting marriage to be a perpetual honeymoon puts a lot of money into divorce lawyers' pockets."

Grennan is married to actress Kathy Santen, a muse and frequent sounding board for his writing, who appeared in developmental versions of Married Alive! and plays the Kansas City premiere run.

"In my own marriage, Kathy and I think that if you can laugh with, at, or near each other, your odds go up," Chicago-bred, New Yorker Grennan said. "But nothing is guaranteed, so I better go get her some flowers before she tosses me out."

For information about Married Alive! at AHT, call (816) 842-9999, visit the box office in Crown Center, or visit www.ahtkc.com.

For more information about the show, visit www.marriedalive.net.