11th November 2009, Moat Theatre Naas | 20th-22nd November 2009, Liffey Studio
How can you use the traditional form of musical theatre to explore issues of interest to teenagers? This was the question presented to Kildare Youth Theatre at the start of summer 2009.
Do you jazz up Grease or Oliver and add your production to the hundreds of those already produced every year? Kildare Youth Theatre’s answer was to create their own musical from scratch. They devised the plot, invented the characters, created the dialogue and scenes, and composed their own songs over a three month period. Such was the birth of Proper Preggers, Kildare’s first original musical entirely created by teenagers.
Kildare Youth Theatre is experienced in devising new plays and sketches using dialogue and movement, but never before have they had the confidence to write their own musical.
Under the direction of Eimear Crehan and Keith Millar, the former being a gospel choir singer, young actors were encouraged to sing, a challenge in itself, as most of them were very shy about using their voice in this way.
The resulting workshops over the summer created a buzz of excitement and wonder as previously shy people revealed wonderfully competent singing voices, and often moved their peers with their ability to both create and perform beautiful songs about the reality of being teenagers in Kildare today.
Dance routines were choreographed by Mary Duffin, a long-time director of Kildare Youth Theatre who has also choreographed many memorable routines for public performance with the young ensemble.
“For years,” she says, “they’ve grown up with the idea that they haven’t got the ability to sing, despite the fact that music is integral to their lives. Singing is deeply personal and can expose the singer’s vulnerability in a way that is unique. Sometimes people find it embarrassing to do this in public. My job was to provide a safe place in which they could let their inhibitions go and to support them in finding their individual voices.”
- Director Eimear Crehan on getting actors to try singing.
The story revolves around Tara and Ben, two young people who have been together for two years and are in love. When Tara finds out that she is pregnant their world flips upside down. Ben, who does not have a supportive family, doesn't know how to handle the news that he is going to be a father at just 17. Tara tries to cope with Ben's reaction as well as her family’s disappointment in her. Meanwhile Ben and Tara's friends, and enemies, try to handle the news of this shock teenage pregnancy. Tara finds out who her friends really are, and tries to deal with the other girls who have a blast with the scandal.
The young couple must navigate the complex world that is full of peer pressure, disapproval, excitement, bewilderment and envy, while trusting that their love for each other will somehow see them through. But is this love enough?
Proper Preggers had a cast of 20 and has 12 original songs and original dance numbers.
Check out performances of 'What A Man' and 'Foot in Mouth' from Proper Preggers below.