After his first year of university, Washington DC native Nick Blaemire penned two songs inspired by a difficult break up with friends. He played both tracks for friend James Gardiner, and a subsequent collaboration resulted in the musical, Glory Days.
It’s now almost seven years since its first performance in Arlington, Virginia, and Sydney audiences have the opportunity to be part of the Australian premiere of Glory Days, thanks to the recently-formed EXCLAIM! Theatre Company. Blaemire and Gardiner’s contemporary tale will open at the Tom Mann Theatre on Friday night.
Glory Days tells the story of four young men reuniting one year after they finish high school. Cast member Julian Kuo told Theatre People, “Glory Days is all about growing up as young men in the 21st Century. It deals with struggles with sexuality, young men’s seeming need to have all the answers immediately and, at its core, the relationships we have and how they shift as we grow up after high school.”
Prior to Glory Days’ Broadway opening in 2008, James Gardiner told attendees at a press event that “One of the things Nick (Blaemire) and I were really trying to do with this show was capture what it’s like to be a member of our generation, and to talk about the things that we love about it, and also to talk about the things that annoy us.”
Aaron Robuck plays Will, often described as the “glue” of the show’s four characters. “Will…has been the major force in reuniting the boys together…He likes to think of himself as the leader of the group, but he ends up losing control of the night he had planned. He is desperate for them to return to the boys they were a year ago.”
Tim Dal Cortivo, who plays Jack, hopes audiences will take away the message “(t)hat masculinity and ‘being a man’ comes in many different shapes and sizes and in the end it’s just about being comfortable and confident with who you are,” while Damon Grebert-Wade hopes those who attend will realise that “(c)hange is inevitable and there is no right way to react and there is no way to stop it.”
In addition to its abundance of important social messages, Glory Days features a catchy pop rock score, and demands highly trained and highly skilled vocalists. “The vocal is really, really hard,” admitted Mr Kuo. “I think this project has pushed me more than any other to really work on my voice.” But a quick glance at the CVs of each cast member should convince any sceptic that this cast is up to the task! And if Mr Robuck’s appraisal is any indication, audiences are likely to be impressed with the way things are shaping up as final rehearsals approach. “I love all the group numbers – the harmonies are amaaaaazing.”
Above: the promotional image from the show, courtesy of EXCLAIM! Theatre's Facebook page (link below).
Despite an infamously early closing on Broadway, Glory Days’ earlier run in Arlington was a critical success. Peter Marks of The Washington Post described the musical as “a fresh and vivacious one-act musical…real and surprisingly moving…the buoyant product of the talented young team, Glory Days swiftly, tunefully and yes, authentically latches onto the rhythms of late adolescence and plays them back to us as the music of wrenching transitions.”
With direction and choreography by Elizabeth Evans, Glory Days is the second offering of EXCLAIM! Theatre Company. Made up entirely of the alumni of the Australian Institute of Music’s music theatre program, the company’s mission is to provide opportunities to its graduates to develop their skills and showcase their talents in high quality works, while waiting for their big break. “AIM is really gifted in nurturing the individuality in their students,” Mr Robuck told Theatre People. “So when casting Exclaim shows, it’s so easy to fit very specific roles from the same talent pool!” Many former AIM students have gone on to successful careers in theatre, including Elisa Colla, who recently performed the role of Nessarose in the Australian premiere season of Wicked, and is currently performing as part of the impressive company in the stunning current production of Les Miserables.
Given this is an Australian premiere and given the calibre of performers making up the company behind it, it would seem a decision about a ticket purchase for one of the upcoming performances would be a no brainer! But in case a final arm twist is required, the cast was only too happy to tell Theatre People their reasons why audiences will enjoy this new show. “…it’s rocky, it’s now, it’s conversational,” said Mr Grebert-Wade. “The biggest thing you can look forward to is four guys singing crazy high rock music,” spruiked Mr Robuck. Mr Dal Corvito assured us, “we also sound pretty bloody good all singing together and have a kick arse band!”