AISLE SAY San Francisco


Music & lyrics by Matthew Sweet
Book by Todd Almond
Directed by Les Waters
Presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Thrust Stage
2025 Addison St., Berkeley, CA / (510) 647-2949

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Matthew Sweet's popular 1991 album, "Girlfriend," has taken on new life as a musical of the same name, being given its world premiere by Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Sweet's music and lyrics have a new twist via a book by Todd Almond

The slightly built, passive Will (Ryder Bach) has never dated girls, while Mike (Jason Hite) is a good-looking jock who supposedly has a girlfriend in another town. The two have just graduated from high school in their small Nebraska town. Will is elated that school is over. He's even more elated when Mike calls and asks him to go to a drive-in movie that night. The relationship evolves slowly and awkwardly. Will apparently knows that he's gay, but he's shy and afraid to act on it. Mike is trying to reconcile his attraction to Will with his macho image. He's even more afraid to do anything. Still, the two are drawn to each other.

Along the way, they sing Sweet's easy-to-listen-to rock 'n' roll songs accompanied by a four-woman band located upstage in what could be a den in the simple set designed by David Zinn, who also did the costumes. The lighting is by Japhy Weideman with sound by Jake Rodriguez.

Bach and Hite are both terrific performers, blending well in their duets and creating likable, believable characters. Hite contributes some guitar-playing, too. Directed by Les Waters with some basic choreography by Joe Goode, it's a sweet, engaging, energetic, often humorous production.

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