‘Wild’ concert tackles climate change with thrilling score and questionable storyline
The show: “Wild, a musical future”
Written by: Book of V (formerly Eve Ensler); music by Justin Tranter and Caroline Pennell with contributions by Eren Cannata; lyrics by Tranter, Pennell and V; contributions by Idina Menzel; presented by American Repertory Theater
What is it about : It’s a world premiere concert version of a developing musical fable about single mother Bea (Tony Menzel Award winner), who struggles with her neighbors to hold onto their family farms and tries to stay close to her teenage daughter Sophia (YDE actor/musician). When a company offers big bucks to lease the local land for unspecified but seemingly nefarious purposes, teenagers in the town of Outskirtzia hit back in an unusual way to stress the need to take care of the planet.
To see or not: The multi-genre score is terrific, from the catchy opener “Mouths to Feed” to the rowdy “Paradoxical Dilemma” to Bea’s anthem “Wild” – and director Diane Paulus makes the most of this strong music. with concert style and band on stage. The story, however, is not fully formed and will require the most work as this musical progresses. Some might say it’s too late for the subtlety of the climate change emergency, but more character development to soften the caricatures, flesh out the story frankly of good versus evil, and a less direct approach in the together could make the message of the story more effective.
Highlights of the show: Watching Tony Award-winning Menzel (“Wicked,” “Rent,” the movie “Frozen”) and YDE (TV’s “School of Rock,” “The Haunted Hathaways”), 18, alone is worth the price tag. entry, but the talent and passion for this music and this subject only begins there and is deeply embedded in this cast. The supporting players are exceptional – especially Brittany Campbell as Oak, Paravi Das as Forte, Luke Ferrari as Possible and the versatile Josh Lamon in multiple roles.
Fun fact: The designers decided to make an environmental statement by creating the costumes for “Wild” exclusively from second-hand, recycled and repurposed materials from thrift stores and vintage warehouses. Denim dominates for farmers because, designers note in the program, jeans are one of the most polluting garments in the world to manufacture. “We hope audiences will be inspired by our designs and look deep into their own closets to see how they can reuse and repurpose their own clothes,” they say.
To note: As part of this show and ART’s push for environmentally friendly practices, the setting is left to the imagination of the audience and the program is online. ART partners with local organizations related to climate change and advocacy, and Paulus (also artistic director of the theatre) urges members of the public to do the same and take action now. She notes that musicals typically take years to reach full stage production, but “as the climate crisis continues to escalate, we couldn’t wait to share this story.”
One more thing : The main cast is supported in several numbers by young people from the Boston Children’s Chorus, both singing and dancing. Their enthusiasm and urgency as they sing lyrics that include “We want you to panic/We want you to act/You stole our future/And we want it back!” make your heart swell and hurt it at the same time.
If you are going to: Shows run until January 2 (with Menzel in the cast until December 23, Crystal Monee Hall as Bea for the rest of the series) at the Loeb Drama Centre, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge. Some shows are sold out, but tickets start at $25: AmericanRepertoryTheater.org/WILD. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test and wearing a mask at all times is required.