By Cady Inabinett, Managing editor of content
Montevallo’s Theatre Department is bringing “Punk Rock Girl!” to the stage, marking the show’s first performance outside of its original run at the Argyle Theatre in New York.
“Punk Rock Girl!” follows main character Angela Quivers, a high school student who wants to engage with the punk scene but is afraid of being seen as abnormal. After meeting a punk rocker at the jukebox repair store she works at and getting invited to a punk show, Angela feels a connection with other punks.
As Michael Walker, associate professor of theatre at UM and director of “Punk Rock Girl!,” put it, “It’s about her finding her inner punk.”
“Punk Rock Girl!” is a jukebox musical, with Walker saying the show features songs by female musicians across genre lines, not just punk musicians—mentioning Pat Benatar, Blondie, Sleater-Kinney, The Milkmen, Avril Lavigne, P!nk and Katy Perry.
When asked why he wanted to direct this show, Walker said its three female lead roles and nonbinary roles allowed UM’s theatre department to serve its female and nonbinary students.
He also spoke on his experience seeing this show in New York saying, “It’s just fun. It’s not heavy, it’s not serious. It’s like, let’s be goofy and silly and funny and have fun. And it felt like that was a thing students were wanting.”
Senior musical theatre major Macy Robinson, who plays Angela, said she felt drawn to “Punk Rock Girl” when she learned that Joe Iconis arranged the show’s music.
Iconis is best known for his work on Broadway musical “Be More Chill,” a musical Robinson said is meaningful to her and her younger sister—a freshman who is working on “Punk Rock Girl!” as the production master electrician and lighting board operator.
“Immediately, I was excited about the fact that it was a work by him which meant a lot to my sister and I and it was how we became closer when we were younger,” she said.
Angela’s journey throughout the show also spoke to Walker and Robinson, with Walker saying, “I had a very similar trajectory in high school. Kind of didn’t have my group and then I found a theater. And I was like, ‘Oh, I like this thing and I fit in here and this group of people are super welcoming and kind of roll with my wacky, zany, craziness.”
Robinson said Angela’s journey to be her authentic self resonated with her, and that it was exciting to relive the emotions of being a teenager again.
“I really love how open she is, and, just, she just feels like such a, like, malleable clay because she’s so young and bright-eyed and she lets everything hit her with full force,” said Robinson about Angela.
Finding your people is a universal story to Walker, but he feels it’s especially applicable to Montevallo.
“I couldn’t get over, like, I saw this show in New York and I was like this is Montevallo,” he said.
Robinson drew connections between “Punk Rock Girl!” and the Montevallo ethos too, describing the musical as, “all of the eclectic, weird, vibrant things that I love about Montevallo wrapped up into a cute, perfect, nice, little, like, quirky bow.”
Four groups of high school students will be attending showings of “Punk Rock Girl!” according to Walker—providing an important opportunity for these students to see themselves reflected on stage he says.
“It’s not about being normal,” he said, “It is about owning how you’re different, and I think high schoolers need to hear that. I think college students need to hear that. I think grown-ups and adults and my boomers need to hear that.”
Elesha Adams, a senior theatre major and assistant technical director for “Punk Rock Girl!,” spoke on the inspirational power seeing a university theater production could have for high school theatre students.
“It’s just, like, building that level of aspiration and, like, possibility,” she said, “Like, ‘Wow, my high school production was just this, but look at how much more it could be.’”
She added that she hopes to draw more students into theater tech as well.
Inspiration is a two-way street according to Robinson. She said she’s excited for the cast to be energized by their high school audience.
Adams pointed out the learning experience extends to UM theatre students as well, pointing out that she has been working with freshman students in the Applied Theatre class—some of whom are in the show’s cast—to build sets.
“Seeing it all come together is just, like, crazy, especially, like, for them,” she said about working with cast members. “Yes, they can say their lines, they can act it out. But, like, being in the set it just makes it feel more real.”
Working on “Punk Rock Girl!” has been a learning experience for the cast too, according to Robinson. She said she’s learned a lot about the punk scene while working on the show, especially about the histories of different punk movements and the connections between activism and punks. Herself and others working on the show even attended the Birmingham Punk Rock Flea Market in October—an eye-opening experience for Robinson.
“There were just, like, so many different kinds of people,” she said about the event, “Punk has so many different subgenres that I didn’t know about. There were these punk, like, drag queens that were there and they were in slasher Halloween costumes and it was really cool.”
“Punk Rock Girl!” opens Nov. 17, with nightly performances running Nov. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. and two matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Nov. 19 and 20. Tickets can be purchased at https://montevallotickets.universitytickets.com/.
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.