With each new opening at MetroStage, the level of talent that transforms the intimate Alexandria theatre continues to defy expectations, and the latest musical, ROOMS: A Rock Romance, is no exception.
Making its world premier after being produced as part of the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival, ROOMS opens in 1970s Glasgow at the height of punk rock and follows the struggling songwriting duo of Monica and Ian as their dreams of success takes them to London and, ultimately, New York.
Written by the husband and wife team of Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon, ROOMS follows Goodmans own journey from his native Scotland to Broadway, where he wrote the book, music and lyrics for Bright Lights, Big City, the 1999 off-Broadway musical adaptation of the Jay McInerney novel.
Under the award-winning eye of director Scott Schwartz, who also directed the NYMF workshop, two of the most talented actors ever to appear in our region are bringing audiences to their feet in their MetroStage debuts.
Natascia Diaz plays Monica, an ambitious, self-described Scottish-Jewish princess, who seeks out the reclusive and hard-drinking Ian for some collaborative songwriting.
Diaz, who mesmerized audiences as Aurora in Signature Theaters Kiss of the Spider Woman, is a dynamic force of nonstop energy, brilliantly capturing the youthful exuberance and naivete of a burgeoning artist who never doubts the power of her talent and dreams.
With a multifaceted voice, Diaz is captivating as she effortlessly navigates a score that ranges from hard rock to tender ballads.
Keeping up with Diaz is no easy task, but Broadway veteran Doug Kreeger, fresh from his critically acclaimed performance in Signature Theaters sold out production of the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit, more than delivers in the brooding role of Ian.
Together, they create a chemistry that transfixes the audience as their musical partnership inevitably evolves from professional to personal and, not surprisingly, stumbles along the way.
Goodman, who was honored as the first recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Best New Songwriter Award, has composed 17 dynamic melodies for the 90-minute show that range from the comical ‘Scottish Jewish Princess,’ to the touching ‘Little Bit of Love.’
Diaz and Kreeger are perfectly cast to showcase the passionate score and are particularly impressive when blending their extraordinary voices during the many duets.
Backing up the talented duo is a powerhouse five-piece band, conducted by keyboardist Jenny Cartney, that rocks the theater with musical arrangements by Jesse Vargas.
Set designer Adam Koch helps keep all eyes riveted to Diaz and Kreeger with a deceptively simple set that creatively uses a movable door, two chairs and a guitar to magically create three different cities on two continents.
With costumes by Alejo Vietti and lighting by Herrick Goldman, the 130-seat theater is authentically transformed into the underground world of punk rock in the 70s and 80s.
Artistic Director Carolyn Griffin, who has been with MetroStage since its founding in 1984, has once again brought a triumphant world premiere production to the award-winning theater and the Alexandria community.
ROOMS is very much reminiscent of its rock musical predecessors like Rent and Spring Awakening. If you enjoyed those blockbuster musicals, youll love ROOMS and will be proud to say you saw it at MetroStage first.