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Theatre Talk: The Outsiders

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to The Village News

Making its world debut at La Jolla Playhouse is a play based on a 1983 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, "The Outsiders."

The story details a teenage girl's high school observations while attending Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Susan Eloise Hinton was 16 years old in 1967. Her book, "The Outsiders," talks about generational prejudice and hate between the 'Greasers' (the have nots) and the 'Socs' (the haves).

It took more than eight years for Adam Rapp to develop the story for the stage. I wonder why? Isn't there enough hate segregating us over the past couple of years, that now, we need to set it to music?

Although the arrangements and orchestrations by Justin Levine are spectacular in every way, the lyrics by Jonathon Clay and Zach Chance (Jamestown Revival) aren't memorable. After all, it's gotta be hard to put hate to music, which is what "The Outsiders, a New Musical" declares itself to be. A musical?

The scenic design by Tatiana Kahvegian, Brett Banakis, and Christine Jones is innovative, yet one can't help but wonder why in a play founded on ownership of 'the park' which conjures up green, this set does not have one speck of green grass anywhere on stage. Instead, it looks like an abandoned train yard.

Here is a name to remember. Jeremy Chernick designed the special effects which included a downpour on stage. That's cool. The other tech areas done well include Isabella Byrd for lighting, Justin Ellington for sound, and Tal Yarden as the projectionist.

Rick and Jeff Kuperman, masters of the masculine choreography, have created some very innovative fight sequences.

"The Outsiders, a New Musical" needs work before packing up for Broadway. Still the question remains, why do we need more hate stories even if it is set to music?

"The Outsiders, A New Musical" will play until April 9 at La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., 858-550-1010, Arrive early to shuttle to the venue. Unrated.

Elizabeth can be reached at [email protected].


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