Back in 2002, Marc Hall was in High School and wanted to bring his boyfriend to his prom. He thought it was a simple request for his Catholic Secondary School. But it wasn’t.
Now it’s 2020 and Theatre Calgary is presenting Hall’s story as a musical, based on the book by Edmontonian Kent Staines, lyrics by Calgarian Akiva Romer-Segal and music by also Calgarian, Colleen Dauncey. It’s a powerful production, with local artistic roots and a immensely talented cast. The Louder We Get is a not to be missed musical of the season.
The play opens to Marc (Evan Kinnane) excited to go to prom with his best friend Carly (Katie McMillan), and his boyfriend Jason (Nick Dolan). Everyone is talking about taking a date, especially his friends Tiff (Isidora Kecman) and Kristal (Devin Cecchetto). When Marc submit’s his date’s name to the prom committee, his principal (Naomi Costain) refuses his request. So his teacher Miss Lawrence (Rielle Braid) tell his to appeal to the school board. For that, he needs the support of his mother, Emily Hall (Kira Guloien) and eventually gets the support he is looking for, from his father, Audy Hall (Lee MacDougall). When the board rules against him, Carly tells her date-to-be Boomer Bronson (Kolton Stewart) that is only going if Marc goes, which causes Bronson to rally friends Napoleon (Jamie Mayers) and Triple (Joel Schaefer) who then rally the whole class. If Marc can’t go to prom, neither will they. In steps Lonnie Wynn (Thom Allison) a lawyer who will take on Marc’s case. Even though Marc is against some big players, like the opposing lawyer Paul Vincent (Kevin Corey) and is threatened by Father Hopkins (Scott Olynek), his resolve wavers, but never falters. His story becomes bigger than just him.
The entire cast of The Louder We Get are incredibly talented singers. Everyone has stage presence and can dance. This cast is a delight to watch on stage. Kinnane as Hall is dynamic and engaging, and is pure joy. McMillan has spunk and attitude as Carly and has great chemistry with Stewart who is a stand out performance. This is contrasted to the chemistry between Dolan and Kinnane. It’s hard to believe that Jason would go through all that trouble for someone he doesn’t seem to have a strong connection to. There is barely any sparks between the two and that’s a shame. Thom Allison lights up the stage whenever he is there as Wynn, while MacDougall’s performance as Hall’s quiet and soft spoken dad is a noteworthy foil in the production. We need the quiet as well as the loud as it gives the musical balance.
Rebecca Howell’s choreography is unique, especially when the ensemble takes on the roles of mannequins. James Noone’s set design has the cast flying down poles and dancing among school lockers. Sometimes the lockers seem out of place, but it works within the production. The use of video projection gives the audience context of the year 2002, as well as showing the real life Marc Hall, going to his prom. Jason Hand’s lighting design gives the production vibrancy and pizzazz. Director Lonny Price has the entire production humming along nicely while Joshua Zecher-Ross keeps the orchestra on the beats.
What sets The Louder We Get apart from other productions is the music and lyrics are so memorable and captivating. You’ll want to run out and buy the cd after you’ve seen the performance. And it’s something that we need right now, a story of fighting for equality and inclusion. Because though it may be 2020, sometimes we are still fighting the same battles and it’s nice to know about the instances that were won.
Don’t walk, run to the next performance of Theatre Calgary’s The Louder We Get, running until February 22. Tickets are available online.
The cast of The Louder We Get, photo by Trudie Lee.