Book and lyrics by Nathan Allen, Jake Minton, and Chris Mathews
Music by Kevin O’Donnell with Nathan Allen
The House Theatre of Chicago (Chopin Theatre)
Directed by Nathan Allen
Set design by Collette Pollard
Costume design by Ana Kuzmanic
Sound design by Brett Masteller
Research and renderings
Girls vs. Boys started as a workshop at Northwestern University, where director and co-writer Nathan Allen led a class of undergraduates in exploring friendship, love, sex, and the joy and pain of experiencing them all as a young person. Through a fully realized workshop production with the American Musical Theatre Project and further development by the House company, the story that emerged followed six young people through a night of love and heartbreak, employing a few metaphors to tell the story (guns, rose petals, and glitter) but none so solidly as rock and roll music.
As rock music became the central means to express the amplified emotions of teenage years, the set developed as a venue for that concert. Collette Pollard used aluminum truss to stake out the space, elevated the band as a backdrop for the action, and created a stage and runways that surrounded a standing-room-only audience. The lighting design idea was inspired by images of rock concerts, especially the saturated colors washing over a guitarist entranced in an epic solo, and the beams of light piercing through haze. The light plot was developed with two main ideas: a surround of white light coming from the truss, and down light in shifting colors. The two joined in changing, sometimes pulsing combinations to complete the rock n roll aesthetic.