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Theater Tue Jul 23 2013

Broken Nose Theatre Rocks with Rooms: A Rock Romance

IanGuitar-Rooms-GB.jpg
Matt Deitchman; photo by Taryn Goodge.

The sign outside the theater says, "This is a rock musical. It will be loud." And it starts loud with a four-piece rock band playing preshow music including the classic "Seven Nights to Rock."

Rooms: A Rock Romance is a fairly traditional musical, punctuated by some great rock and punk rock songs performed on stage with a band. It is, at its heart, a love story about two people with different visions of life. Monica (Hillary Marren) wants to be a rock star, to travel and perform all over the world and Ian (Matt Deitchman) is a musician who prefers to stay at home in his own room with his guitar.

Rooms was written by Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon, with lyrics and music by Goodman, and was an off-Broadway hit with runs in Los Angeles and London.

The story in set in late 1970s Glasgow, London and New York. Monica, a singer-songwriter who describes herself as a Scottish-Jewish princess, and Ian, a rocker, meet in Glasgow. She hires him to write and play a song for a relative's bar mitzvah, for which Ian and the band members don yarmulkes. Monica and Ian hit it off musically and personally and decide to go to London to join in the burgeoning punk scene. Both cast off their mainstream clothing for punk leather, studs and ripped clothing. They have a hit song in "All I Want Is Everything," which zooms up the chart, finally hitting #1. Their big chance comes when their record label is bought by EMI and they are offered a US tour, with a gig at CBGB, the iconic punk club on Bowery in the East Village.

This is where the two musicians' discordant visions trip them up. Ian, who has a history as a drinker, doesn't show up for the CBGB gig. Monica goes on solo and then decides to launch a solo career. The love complication is that Monica is pregnant and plans to have an abortion.

Ian returns to Glasgow to a lonely life where he sings, "I never want to leave this room." But he does. He joins a group to kick his drinking habit and succeeds. In the meantime, Monica decides to keep the baby and stays in New York where their son Glasgow Miller Wallace is born. Two years later, Ian, now clean and sober, comes to New York to find Monica and a happy ending takes place.

The band, The Diabolicals, plays background throughout and backs up the two musicians on their stage numbers. The very sharp band is made up of Cook on piano, Chuck Zayas on bass, Sam Brownson (and occasionally Deitchman) on guitar, and Matthew Sitz on percussion. Some of the music has a punk flavor; however, most of it is roots rock or straight-up rock. The singers' solos are often ballad-like and most of the dialogue is sung in musical-theater style.

What's in a name?
Rooms is the last play of Broken Nose Theatre's inaugural season. It's always fun to wonder about the origin of the name of a band or a theater company. Broken Nose tells us how the name was drawn from a Nelson Algren book, Chicago, City on the Make:

"Yet once you've come to be part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real."
~*~

Broken Nose Theatre will present Rooms until August 11 at the Collaboraction Pentagon space in the Flat Iron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Performances are at 8pm Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online; for more information, call 312-226-9633.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

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By Nancy Bishop

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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

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