Thursday, August 4, 2011
Another year, another musical few have heard of about to open tonight. This time the title is “Rooms: A Rock Romance.”
But that’s the mission of The Candy Project, an Omaha theater company that set its sights on staging new musicals with young adult themes that nobody else in town is doing.
Candy Project has had sweet success, first with “I Love You Because …” and then, last summer, “[title of show],” which is up for best musical at Sunday’s annual Theatre Arts Guild awards.
“‘Rooms’ is new, edgy, smart and it rocks,” said Cathy Hirsch, a Candy Project co-founder and producer of the show.
Her cast, just two young actors, enthusiastically agrees.
“I’m so in love with the music,” said Omahan David Rubio, who plays Ian, an introverted Scottish guitar player. “Candy Project is great about getting the quality stuff onstage.”
Jaimie Pruden, of Tucson, Ariz., took the role of Monica two weeks into rehearsals, when an actress left the project. While simultaneously rehearsing and appearing in “Church Basement Ladies” with the Nebraska Repertory Theatre in Lincoln, Pruden learned the massive role in just a few days while commuting daily from Lincoln.
“I had heard the music and thought it was awesome,” Pruden said. “What drew me to the character is just the raw emotion and the amount of honesty. It’s a very vulnerable position for an actor to be in, just two people onstage. But it’s really worth the work.”
While Ian’s an introvert who’s all about the music, vocalist Monica is driven by ambition and the dream of fame. Opposites attract, but the pair find their romance rocky because of their differences as they climb from obscurity in Glasgow to London and then New York City.
“We’re playing characters our own age, but they’re forced to mature so fast,” Rubio said. “It’s very challenging, unlike any role I’ve had.”
Pruden said the interplay is often funny, but it’s also a beautiful love story.
With Pruden arriving late to the rehearsal process, it was a help that she and Rubio live in the same off-campus house in Lincoln while working on voice degrees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Both 20 and heading into their junior year, they are friends who have sung together before.
“It’s great that we connect so well,” Rubio said. “That musical connection that is the basis of the show happens onstage with us. It’s a joy to do it every night.”