Last night was a special night for Windsor’s theatre community. The Edge Productions hosted the opening of the Canadian premiere of Pregnancy Pact: A Musical. The 2012 play, which originally opened at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, Vermont, has never been performed outside of that initial premiere. It’s a show begging to be seen and heard.
Pregnancy Pact is a controversial musical about a group of teens who make a promise to become single mothers together. 15-year-old Maddie is devoted to her three best friends, as they are to her, so when Brynn gets pregnant, the friends all plan to have children together, raising them in a dream of a perfect life. Their pact grows as other girls find out and want in. The bubble finally bursts when their secret is revealed, leaving each of the girls to face the hard realities of love, responsibility and growing up.
There’s a bit of language in the show, as well as bursts of sexuality, a fair bit of undressed moments and of course tons of chatter about teen pregnancy, but that’s something expected with a play about a group of girls aiming to get pregnant and become single moms.
Much like Titanic, the ending of the story is somewhat obvious, as the pregnancy of Brynn reaches the point of birth, but the magic in the show is how we see each girl deal with the pains of pregnancy, the rise and fall of friendships and how each of them dealt with their own take on love and boys.
Apart from the controversial content, the music was well played by the live band and the six-female, one-male cast provided an intimate take on the famous story. For this production, I seemed to be sitting in the lipstick tossing section, but I refused to pick up the lipstick because I wasn’t sure who’s penis it had been in contact with (an inside joke for those who have seen the show).
Though the musical and its characters are entirely original, it is inspired by a 2008 Time Magazine news story about a surge in pregnancies at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts. Seventeen girls got pregnant during the 2007-2008 school year, and when faced with questions, the principal alleged that the girls had made a pact to all get pregnant together – an allegation all of the girls deny. The news story resulted in the 2011 French film 17 Girls and a 2012 made-for-television movie The Pregnancy Pact, which apart from the inspiration, are not related to the musical.
The play seemed to be a passion for the actresses as they had an opportunity to explore a wide range of emotions throughout a series of difficult songs. Musical highlights included Girls Suck, Hummingbird Heart and Let Me, which was the only individual song performed by the shows lone male actor Sean Sennett. Apart from appearing on stage in nothing more than a tight pair of boxer briefs and socks at the beginning of the show, Sennett was able to become two different characters by using the old Superman trick of wearing glasses to separate the two. He did a fantastic job in a very sexual show lead by and mostly for women.
The girls in the cast were solid, great singers and provided an array of personalities, from nerdy and sporty to motherly and stuck up. Miranda DiPietro progressed through the show as her belly grew and her personality raged. She was fun to watch as the initial voice of reason and proved rock solid when she took Brynn to the point of being a discontented mother – something she actually despised at the beginning of the show. She gave it her all, even during an uncomfortable and emotional breast-feeding scene where her newborn son refused to eat.
Even though Brynn was the first to get pregnant, Samantha Bourque seemed to be the main instigator in creating the pact, and we see her version of Maddie on stage quite a bit. The character was a bit butch, but Bourque gave her a few twists throughout the show, leaving audiences both laughing and crying at the same time.
Shayla Hudson was fun as the sporty, but timid Jeanelle. She rocked in her solo performance of I’m Done, where she gives up on the group and walks out. The duo of Rebecca Kashmir (Jenn) and Olivia Ridpath (Sansanee) were great as the outsiders who eventually beg to be part of the group and join in the pact. They had their moment in the second act number Nobody Knows.
Avonlea Smith had quite a few great moments on stage as the lone member of the group struggling to get pregnant. Her shining moment was in the early song Or What?, which greatly surpasses the soundtrack recording from the original cast. In fact, all the performances from through the entire show sounded more lively and natural than the original cast recordings available off YouTube or SoundCloud.
Director Miriam Goldstein picked another winner with this obscure musical based on one of the oddest news stories of the late 2000s and her choice of The Rondo as a venue was a superb choice. The Rondo stage is a great place for theatre and provides a good, dark venue. This production could have benefitted a bit more from some stage props, lights and a bit more vocals in the overall mix. The vocal mix would have given the production a better flow and some additional lights would have provided a bit more ambiance. But overall, the raw version we were presented with on opening night was still worthy of praise and a great premiere for this new and exciting musical.
Pregnancy Pact: A Musical runs tonight and Wednesday (Aug. 15 and 16) at The Rondo at 8 pm, with an additional show on Thursday (aug. 17) at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20. More information can be found on The Edge Productions Facebook page.