You may think you’ve seen it before but Generation ME the Musical isn’t just another story about teen suicide. In all honesty, this new full-length musical from three first-time writers is the surprise of the festival. It has moments – a lot of them – that will knock the wind out of you, and for much of the performance I attended, the audience was so quiet and so engaged you could hear a pin drop.
It’s a great example of how the right people telling the right story can move an audience with their honesty. This is a musical with something to say and it does it without being heavy-handed or melodramatic. Because of that, it can’t help but affect you. The revelations that come in Act II alone will make you reevaluate what you think you know to be true. There’s often so much more to a person’s story and until you stop focusing on yourself you’ll never really see what is right there in front of you.
Seventeen teenagers make up the cast and because they are actually the same ages as their characters they feel like real people, not actors. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fresh young talent in the production but it doesn’t feel like they’re “acting” and that alone is worth its weight in gold.
This is a realistic story of what happens when a high school kid whose life looks perfect commits suicide without explanation or warning. Following an unforgettable opening number, the story is told in flashbacks with lighting changes that help inform the audience whether the scene taking place is happening before or after the critical event.
Yes, there is still editing to be done (the show clocks in at about 2 hours and 45 minutes) but this is a polished, well-rehearsed, well-written musical full of potential that marks the beginning of a promising writing career for Julie Soto (book, lyrics & story), Will Finan (music & musical direction), and Ryan Warren (story and direction). It’s candid, raw, funny, and touching. I’d love to see anything they do next.