1660 Vine - A New Musical - December 09 - December 11, 2022

Hollywood High School


1660 Vine – A New Musical is, to my knowledge, the first musical to try (and succeed) to tackle the novelty, complexity, and possible toxicity of coming of age in the era of internet fame.  Generation Z, the youngest of whom will be finishing high school in the coming decade, are the first generation to grow up with smartphones their whole lives – they’ve never known a world without the internet.  It has shaped them, molded them, empowered them, and in some ways, constricted and confined them; and one of the most exciting things about this show is that it makes that point without ever having to beat the audience over the head with it.


Furthermore, what drew me to want to work on this show is that it is completely new, and while the problems the characters face are unique to the internet age, yet they are also as old as time itself.  The plot may focus around internet influencers, the pseudo-celebrities of cyberspace on apps like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc., but that isn’t what the show is really about: it’s about identity, and deciding who you want to be; forging your own path, and coming of age on purpose, and with purpose.


We see characters who are scared and scarred; who are paradoxically trapped and empowered – performing versions of themselves because they’ve found something that “works,” but find themselves chafing against the repetitive expectations of the voracious crowds that hide behind screens, always demanding more and more content.  For those of us who are now on the other side of our late-teens/early twenties, we can remember what it was like to be twenty years old, thinking we were supposed to be adults, we were supposed to be done – so why were things hard and confusing?


Navigating life isn’t easy; it’s even harder when you’re famous, and both life and fame can take an extreme toll on a person’s mental health.  Of all the things that I love in the structure and themes of this show, perhaps my most favorite is the lesson that (most) of the characters learn by the end of the show – just because you’ve made a choice for part of your life doesn’t mean you can’t make a different choice later.  None of us are “done” at twenty – and it’s a lesson I wish I could have learned when I was a teenager from working on or watching a musical like this, instead of having to learn these lessons the same way Danny does – painfully.


But then, as life should, that pain converts to experience, and the characters keep moving through the next phase of their lives as we leave them - exactly as they should.  Somehow, we as a society accidentally teach young people that they're supposed to be "done" at life by their early twenties - that they're supposed to have all the answers and feel grounded and confident and finished.


But as anyone who's older than thirty has learned - that's not true at all.  You can make more choices - you can change your mind - you can take new pathways through life.  We are all works in progress - and I can't imagine a better lesson for a musical to teach to young people.

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