The title, Rooms: a Rock Romance, gives you a good idea of the genre, but what about the “Rooms”? One hint comes from this comparison of the couple, a romancing pair of musicians:
“She longs to see every room in the world — he longs to stay in his.”
She’s bubbly ambitious Monica and he’s rumpled laidback Ian, two Scottish rockers starting in Glasgow in the 1970s. They’re played by two UNL students, Jaime Pruden and David Rubio, credited by producer Cathy Hirsch with making “chills not uncommon” during rehearsals, thanks to the blend of their voices.
The Candy Project production opens Thursday, Aug. 4, after a Theatre Arts Guild Night Out on Wednesday at the Bancroft Street Market on S. 10th Street. The couple’s romantic and professional entanglement takes them to London and then New York.
A publicity blurb dramatizes their “intimate partnership,” and reveals that as their love deepens, their personalities drive them apart. A five-piece rock band joins these two characters “as they search for the balance between ambition and happiness.” That is, her driving ambition and their happiness.
Director Daena Schweiger is also looking for a balance, according to Hirsch, between a genuine Scottish accent “that isn’t so thick a brogue that the words get lost on the ears of the audience.”
And the producer seeks another sort of balance. As the remaining Candy Project founder, Cathy chose this show partly to avoid her company being “pigeonholed into the musical comedy genre.” One of her CP co-founders, Amanda Miller, now bound for grad school, saw the off-Broadway production and agreed that “Rooms would be a good fit.”
It came to Cathy’s attention because she’s a fan of Leslie Kritzer who played Monica in NYC, and she heard the cast recording. When the rights were released, she stood at the head of the line and became the first theater licensed by “the lovely folks at Theatrical Rights Worldwide.”
Preparing for the show’s regional premier, she and Schweiger keep in close contact with the TRW people, providing them feedback throughout the process, and receiving their help “in making adjustments where needed.”
They have Zachary Peterson as musical director leading the rock band. Jenny Pool designs the costumes with lighting by Homero Vela. Lisa McNeil is stage manager.
The two cast members both hone their talents in the same vocal studio and they recently performed together in Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Hirsch appreciates “their dedication in commuting,” with Jaime Pruden going back and forth most of the time, David Rubio when he’s not staying in Omaha.
“These two can really sing and their blend together is phenomenal,” Cathy added.
Accompanying Monica, the singer-songwriter, Rubio’s character Ian plays guitar. “He played well at auditions,” the producer recalled, “and has been working with various sources to learn the music needed for the show well enough to play alone when the script calls for it and together with the five-piece and when needed as well.”
Rooms: a Rock Romance produced by the Candy Project runs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-5, 11-14, and 18-20 at the Bancroft Street Market, 2702 S. 10th St. Tickets for the 90-minute show are $18 for adults, $15 for students and TAG members. Call 402.957.2827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.