After years of straight plays and improvisation, School of Theatre + Dane alumnus Ricky Dunlop is delving into musical theatre for the first time as he works on the team conceiving and writing Social Life: The Musical.
“I never thought I would be able to jump into this world,” said Dunlop. “I’m appreciating musical theatre a lot more.”
Featuring a Tony Award winning actor, Karen Ziemba, the musical tells the story of a modern family of five (including the grandmother) all living together under one very disconnected roof.
“They are so oversaturated by social media and their own personal agendas,” said Dunlop. “They become unable to communicate on a human level.”
The music in Social Life, for which Dunlop has written the lyrics, is based on familiar musical theatre sounds but with an electro-pop twist to every song.
“Certain audiences will come running just because it’s something different,” said Dunlop. “It’s a breath of fresh air.”
Dunlop said that while it has its silly and lighthearted moments, the play aims to shine a light on timely issues such as cyber bullying and unhealthy home lives.
“The themes in this show are important for kids to tackle early on,” said Dunlop. “The main character is a lost soul, and I think a lot of kids feel that way.”
On Feb. 8 and 9, 2015, Dunlop and his team held two readings for industry professionals at The Tribeca Grand Theater and at Pearl Studios. Dunlop said that the more than 140 audience members voiced gratitude for this innovative musical idea.
“We’re trying to tell a story that is very close to us now and very relevant to 2015, and people really appreciated that,” said Dunlop.
Dunlop said he hopes to open the show at an off-Broadway venue as early as this fall.