Teenage angst is nothing new in musical theatre. From Hair to Rent, Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Dear Evan Hansen, the younger crowd has been thrusting, thrashing, building, and trashing nearly everything in their wake.
Still, we embrace their growing pains because we too have walked in their shoes. Perhaps we can’t relate to every struggle and drama they’ve endured, but the general sense of recognition exists.
It’s doubtful that any of us have– or ever will– experience the level of profound grief and shock as Abigail and Shaun Bengson have. The husband and wife indie rock duo married each other following a three week dating period. After that, Abigail suffered a miscarriage. The story of their salad days as a couple was chronicled in their show Hundred Days.
If their current show, The Lucky Ones is any indication of what Hundred Days was like, I am crushed that I missed it. Yet lucky would be the best descriptive for how I felt when I left the Connelly Theater after their latest work.
Based on semi-autobiographical details, The Bengsons, along with fellow book writer Sarah Gancher, spin a tale about their blended family and their upbringing in Vermont. Tolerance, acceptance, and creativity are instilled in them—but carefree parenting and mental health issues have a perilous consequence for the entire clan.
It’s impossible to single out each performer in this pitch-perfect, ethnically diverse cast. Director Anne Kauffman carefully tows the line between irritating youthful shenanigans and genuine, world-wise soul searching. The Bengson’s deeply insightful and hugely melodic music drives this grief story with a fiery determination and hopefulness. Vocally, they are all in top form. You’re not likely to hear such dynamic soul-wrenching singing from anyone besides Abigail Bengson for quite some time.
Produced by Ars Nova, one can only wish that this will tread the same successful path as other productions that have been borne from this institution. The Lucky Ones is proof that life’s scars will never heal, but theater can make the burden a bit lighter.
The Lucky Ones is now playing its final week through April 28th at The Connelly Theater 220 E 4th St (between Avenues A and B) NYC. For tickets and information, click here.