OKC’s Lyric Theatre to stage regional premiere of "Girlfriend"

Jimmy Mavrikes (l) and Ian Marcontell (r). Photo by KO Rinearson.

Jump back to a time when flannel was the height of fashion and mixtapes were the language of love. Lyric Theatre presents the regional premiere of this coming-of-age love story Girlfriend, opening on February 27 and will run till March 17 at Lyric at the Plaza, 1725 NW 16 St.

In collaboration with Washington, D.C.’s Signature Theatre, this production set in a small Nebraska town in the early 1990s follows two recent high school graduates, Mike and Will, and their quest to find love and acceptance.

Girlfriend will be performed on the theatre’s Paula Stover Stage. The play is inspired by Matthew Sweet’s alternative rock album of the same title and features an all-female rock band with direction from Signature’s Matthew Gardiner.

Jimmy Mavrikes is making his Lyric Theatre debut as Will, a role he also played at Signature. Returning to Lyric in the role of Mike is Ian Marcontell, last seen in Lyric’s 2018 Summer at the Civic production of Mamma Mia!

College-bound Mike and self-assured Will rush into summer love in Alliance, Nebraska, at a time before the internet was abundant or any recognizable gay or lesbian characters graced American television screens. Will thinks he’s the only gay person in Nebraska – maybe even the world – while Mike struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and his relationship with his girlfriend. Both are careful what to reveal, especially to each other.

What first drew Gardiner to the piece was its beautiful simplicity. Like the recent movies Love, Simon and Call Me By Your Name, this is an important story for its lack of complication. Its depiction of a gay experience is relatable because everyone falls in love the same way.

Plays like Angels in America and films like Philadelphia explore the trauma of the AIDS crisis and the political struggles of the LGBTQ+ movement, and while those are vital stories, this production portrays a gay story normalized without the layer of suffering. But everyone remembers their first love and the awkwardness, the butterflies and that soaring emotion when you realize your feelings are returned.

A special Pride Night pre-show reception, sponsored by The Gayly, is scheduled for Thursday, March 14, at 6:30 p.m. with Lyric’s Girlfriend performance to follow at 7:30.

This week, theatreWashington.org announced the nominees of its prestigious Helen Hayes Awards. Girlfriend received eight nominations, including Outstanding Production in a Musical, an Outstanding Lead Actor nod for Mavrikes, as well as recognition for direction, musical direction, and sound, lighting, and set design.

The 35th annual awards ceremony will be presented in Washington on May 13.

Girlfriend is written by Todd Almond and music and lyrics from Sweet, this show will include music direction by Britt Bonney, scenic design from Misha Kachman and costume design by Frank Labovitz. Colin K. Bills will provide lighting design, and the sound designer is Ryan Hickey.

Single tickets to Girlfriend start at just $25. For more information, visit LyricTheatreOKC.org or call Lyric’s box office at (405) 524-9312.

Founded in 1963, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma is the state’s leading professional theatre company. Lyric produces classic and contemporary musicals, new works, and plays featuring artists from Oklahoma and around the nation. Shows are presented at two Oklahoma City venues — the intimate Plaza Theatre and in the summer at the grand Civic Center Music Hall.   For more information, visit www.LyricTheatreOKC.org.

Copyright The Gayly – February 26, 2019 @ 7:15 a.m. CST.