Three actors commute into Chicago every day to rehearse their lines, songs and choreography for Girls vs. Boys. But while the rest of the professional cast and crew returns home after a hard day’s work, the trio of Communication students arrives back in Evanston around midnight to juggle homework and a number of different extracurricular activities.
“It’s difficult to go there every night because it’s a very emotionally and physically demanding show,” Matt Deitchman says.
Deitchman, along with Dillan Arrick and Kelley Abell, is part of a collaboration between Northwestern’s American Music Theatre Project and the House Theatre of Chicago. Members of the creative team from the House Theatre workshopped the play on campus last summer, and now it is set to open Thursday, April 8 at the Chopin Theatre.
Girls vs. Boys is a rock musical about relationships, in what the AMTP Web site likened to a “modern day Lord of the Flies.” The show is set up like a concert, with standing room available in a pit section.
Arrick, who plays Sam, the youngest lead character, says she likes having the opportunity to work in a professional environment with some of her classmates.
“It’s so comforting to have them with me,” the junior says. “It’s a professional show, and it’s a little scary at times and intense because you’re working with people who have been in the professional realm for years.”
The process of developing the play has been a long one. Last winter, Northwestern students could audition for a spot in a class with writers Nathan Allen (also the show’s director), Jake Minton and Chris Mathews. There, students and the writing team worked together to develop parts of the show like the songs and themes.
A second audition process was held later for students who wanted to be cast in Northwestern’s summer production of the show. When the show then became a House Theatre production, as planned, all of the students were able to re-audition.
“Being able to see the show through from where it was last summer until where it is now has been really exciting,” says Deitchman, a sophomore ensemble member.
According to Arrick, the opportunity to network with professionals in the theater business is invaluable. Girls vs. Boys director Allen asked her to spend fall quarter 2009 performing as the lead in the House Theatre-created play called The Sparrow at the Stoneham Theatre in Boston.
Co-writer Mathews has been just as excited to work with the students as they have been to work with members of the House Theatre. He says they were willing to roll with the many changes made in the show since it was put on at Northwestern.
“They were absolutely wonderful,” he says. “We were lucky that they could work it into their schedules to be a part of the show.”
Girls vs. Boys will play at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago starting on Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m until May 29. Tickets run $10 to $15 with free pizza on preview nights, which last until Friday April 16. After that, tickets range from $17 to $25. They can be purchased by going online or calling (773) 251-2195.