Runaways is Captivating at the Know
Review by Liz Eichler of Runaways: Know Theatre
Elizabeth Swados Runaways is being performedâ€“this week onlyâ€“at the Know Theatre, co-produced by UCâ€™s CCM and the Know.Â That alone should get theatre people flocking to the Know.Â The musical was first created over 40 years ago, and was a ground-breaker for introducing teen angst in multiple musical styles. It features songs of varying genres, including a rapâ€”40 years before â€œHamilton.â€
So congratulations to Andrew Hungerford and the Know for hosting this collaboration with UCâ€™s CCM. The Know is truly the areaâ€™s theatrical playground, giving a voice to experimental theatre, old and new. When author Elizabeth Swados passed away last year, â€œRunawaysâ€ was a distant memory or a footnote in a bio.Â Now it lives at the Know, and again in our hearts.
Runaways is the story of teenage angst of the 70â€™s.Â In a mixture of monologues and songs we hear of cruel parents and kids who donâ€™t fit in. These kids ran away to the big city (NYC) to escape.Â Most of their stories reflect on where theyâ€™ve been, not their new challenges of life on the street. Â Â So the question is: why did their parents ever have kids?Â And the next question is: how can these kids ever be good parents when they have no idea what that means?
These questions are relative today. The production, however, is part museum piece, and part modern. References to 8-track tapes and OJ Simpson (as a good guy) are juxtaposed with modern attitudes and a tasteless Harambe reference.
The show is full of energy. Director Vince DeGeorge and Musical Director Luke Flood have lovingly revived this show. The voices are there (mostly). The diverse cast includes some who convincingly learned new skills of sign language or Spanish. Â The performers show technical prowess as entertainers, but lack the rawness, the anger, the chips on the shoulders of kids living on the street.Â These stories are less ripped from the heart, as in the original, and more packaged to entertain. There is no costumer listed, which is unfortunate as the cast looks too modern, too put-together, with too-great hair. Â A few performers stand out in the 22-person ensemble cast including Emily Meredith, as well as Delaney Guyer who heartbreakingly deadpans â€œSong of a Child Prostitute.â€ The cast shines in â€œFind Me a Heroâ€ and â€œEnterprise (Rap).â€ The ensemble includes Ciara Harris, Marissa Hecker, Kendall McCarthy, Jenny Mollet (also Choreographer), Gabriela Rodrigues, Emily Royer, Shauna Topian, Amanda Valenzuela, Bryce Baxter, Dylan Dougal, Zach Erhardt, Louis Griffin, Tyler Jent, Jordan Miller, Dylan Mulvaney, Kyle Pollak, Tyler Sodama, Alex Stone, Donelvan Thigpen and Zack Triska.
I recommend theatre people see this show, but it could do more to mine the depths of childhood hurt, anger, and yearning. The show is performed without an intermission, and continues only until September 25. Tickets can be purchased at 513-300-KNOW or knowtheatre.com.