Something about Twenty-Somethings

I recently made a comment on the Book Face that seemed like perhaps needed a bit further clarification.

I had come across an article about a new musical being produced by young (read: my age, which may or may not be young depending on whether or not you are a hater) musical theatre writers.  The summary of this musical hinged on a plot about 6 or 12 or 100 “twentysomethings” figuring something out about life before making their first steps in the real world.

And I wrote: “I think it’s time for younger musical theatre writers to remove the word “twentysomethings” from our vocabulary.”

Afterwards, all with good intention and good taste, some people took me to task for various things.  A few people took me to ask for seeming to include myself as a “younger” writer.  Others apparently thought I was griping about the lack of roles in my apparent age group, which is presumably not “twentysomething.”  Fine. Har, har. Whatever.

The larger point that is being missed is this: why do contemporary writers continue to turn to this archetype of a non-idea, the story of the Twentsomething? (Who started this trend, I wonder?  Jonathan Larson with RENT?)  I’ve written about this issue before and its one of the few things that continue to eat away at me every time I come across it.

To me, the word itself gives away its inherent flaw.  It’s vague It’s “sorta-kinda.”  It attempts to be universal, and in doing so utterly fails – as all non-specific things do.

I’m all for exploring post-adolescences.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with a story about young people coming-of-age in the world.  However, when you start off with characters who are defined simply by their general age as a shorthand into their character…well, I find that nearly insulting.  What does being a twenty-something really, truly, SPECIFICALLY mean?  The truth: nothing.

Regardless of who started the trend, I say we vow to end it.   Let’s once and for all send this word to the chopping block where so many other vague words have gone before.

What do you think?  Does this bother you as much as me?  What do you hate to see writers write about?


This past March, my musical DARLING had a workshop production at Emerson College, Boston.  That production has since been nominated for 10 Evvy Awards.

The EVVY Awards, modeled after professional shows such as the EMMYs and Oscars, have become the largest student-produced, multi-camera, live switch event in the nation. This award winning show has become nationally recognized with a first place award at the National Association of College Broadcasters awards and has received two national Telly Awards.
Throughout the year, student work can be submitted in a wide variety of categories, creating a very competitive environment right here on campus. These submissions are then sent out to professional judges in their respective field to ensure a fair and experienced judging process.

In addition to all acting categories, DARLING was also nominated for Outstanding Direction, Choreography, Lighting, Scenic, and Sound Designs, and Outstanding Theatrical Production.

Haley Vigil was also nominated for Oustanding Costume Design, which includes these fantastic designs:

Many congratulations to director Michael Bello, producer Jacob Porter, and the fantastic cast and crew of DARLING: Emerson!

The Evvy Awards are distributed May 12th, at 7pm EST, and the ceremony will be broadcast live on their site.

TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER To Be Presented in Cabot Theatre

Some good news about the Tavern Keeper’s Daughter, regarding its up-coming world premiere reading with the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the Skylight Opera Theatre.

Ordinarily, the Montgomery Davis New Play Development Series is presented in the Skylight Bar and Bistro – a modest, cafe like environment with a small stage and a piano.

However, due to the collaborative nature of this reading, the Chamber Theatre staff is expecting a larger crowd to be generated, and therefore has secured the permission to have it performed onstage in the renowned Cabot Theatre.

The exquisite Cabot Theatre provides a traditional, yet extremely intimate theater setting. It is modeled after an 18th century European opera house and seats 360.

This promises to be a very exciting theatrical event.  And I encourage you and your friends to come see it.

The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter will be presented Monday, February 27th at 7:30pm in the Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
Admission is FREE, with donations kindly accepted.

UPDATE 2/17/12:  Russ Bickerstaff of agrees with me!

THE TAVERN KEEPER’S DAUGHTER to be Read at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the Skylight Opera Theatre will co-produce a reading of The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter with book, music, & lyrics by B.T. Ryback.  The reading will be directed by Ray Jivoff as part of the the Montgomery Davis Play Development Series, and will take place Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm in The Skylight Bar & Bistro, 2nd Floor, Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway.  The reading is free with donations kindly accepted.

More about TKD: Returning home to Milwaukee from WWII, Lenny, a young Polish marine, finds himself arranged to marry the tavern keeper’s daughter from the bar across the street. Wanting more than a small town life, he runs off to New York City, where he meets Wanda, a spunky young woman trying to make something of herself in the Big Apple. Together they embark on a hilarious and heartwarming journey of self-discovery and romance, complete with a kooky, chorus-dancing gypsy, two mischievous gangster brothers, and the villainous godfather of the Polish mafia. The Tavern Keeper’s Daughter is a brand-new, throw-back musical that celebrates that home is what you choose to make of it.

Ryback nominated, Best Cabaret Artist

Los Angeles, CA – Brett (B.T.) Ryback has been nominated as Best Cabaret Artist (Male) for 2011 Broadway World Los Angeles Awards for his show B.T. RYBACK: SONGS I WROTE.

Click to see his progress and VOTE for him.

Check out clips from SONGS I WROTE on youtube!

And listen to JOE IS (from Joe Schmoe Saves the World) as performed in SONGS I WROTE.

More DARLING Press

From Retrop Productions and Emerson College’s RareWorks Theatre Company, in association with
Kurt Deutsch, President and Founder of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, are pleased to announce their collaboration with Ryan Scott Oliver and BT Ryback on the new musical Darling. A private workshop of this new piece will be presented at Emerson College in December, with a developmental production occurring in early Spring of 2012.


Developmental Production of Darling, A New Musical, to be produced at Emerson College

BOSTON, MA – Retrop Productions and Emerson College’s RareWorks Theatre Company, in association with Kurt Deutsch, President and Founder of Sh-K Boom Records, are pleased to announce their collaboration with Ryan Scott Oliver and BT Ryback on the new musical Darling. A private workshop of this new piece will be presented at Emerson College in December, with a developmental production occurring in early Spring of 2012.

Jacob Porter, President of Retrop Productions, remarked on the collaborative opportunity: “Having [Ryan Scott Oliver] and [B.T. Ryback] present for the developmental process will be a beneficial learning experience for the entire Emerson student community and will provide the authors with information that will aid the creation of this daring and bold new work.” Nick Medvescek, Producing Director for RareWorks Theatre Company, adds “this production allows us to link our student community to industry leaders and rising talent.”

Darling, A New Musical will be directed by Michael Bello, a senior BFA Musical Theatre Major at Emerson College. Bello has previously worked as an assistant director at Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA and for Mary Zimmerman at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston. Bello believes that “bringing a new musical, like Darling, to Emerson will provide every student involved with a unique and educational challenge to work on a piece unlike any other student organization musical.”

Darling is presented in association with Kurt Deutsch, President and Founder Sh-K-Boom Records, a Grammy Award winning label that bridges the gap between rock and theater music. Deutsch is looking forward to this exciting collaboration at Emerson, and stated that “there is nothing like being part of the creation of a new musical and working with two of the most exciting young musical theatre writers. I think that Darling represents where the future of musical theatre is going deeply rooted in traditional storytelling through music but by someone whose influences range from Sondheim to the popular music of today.”

Ryan Scott Oliver, composer and lyricist for Darling, speaks on behalf of the creative collaboration with book-writer BT Ryback: “We’re really looking forward to our work with the Emerson team this year. To be able to not only read thru the material but then have the opportunity to revise it and have it up on its feet in production is an exceptional opportunity. The university setting is a blessing to workshop a show like Darling, and Brett [BT Ryback] and I are anxious to see our show take her next step forward.”

This exciting collaboration highlights the importance of developing new musical theater within an educational environment; providing both student and professional theatre artists with the opportunity to work, learn, and grow in a creative and stimulating climate.

More about Darling
Darling, with music and lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver, and book by B.T. Ryback, follows upper crust teenager Ursula Morgan in 1929 Boston as its society boils in the weeks before the Crash. Neglected by her excessive, self-absorbed parents, Ursula encounters Peter, a charming rent-boy of uncertain age, on the run from the Captain of Police who pursues him for a heinous crime he may or may not have committed. When she is offered the
opportunity to run away with him, she takes it and finds herself swept into a seedy underground of jazz, sex and a mysterious white powder called Fairy Dust.

DARLING at Emerson

This December, DARLING will be going home to Boston.

From A private workshop of the new musical Darling by Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett (B.T.) Ryback will be presented at Emerson College in Boston in December as a collaboration of Retrop Productions and Emerson College’s RareWorks Theatre Company. Students will test the material in the reading meant for the writers and undergrad creative team.

Crazytown Presents!

To all New Yorkers out there: here’s an event that I promise you won’t want to miss.

Joe’s Pub will be home to Crazytown Presents, November 14th at 9:30 pm, an evening of musical theatre, monologues, stand-up comedy, performance art and more from the writers of Crazytown Blog, an “artist’s asylum,” interpreted and performed by some of the funniest actors from the worlds of Broadway and Improv.

Among those set to appear at the one-night only event are:

Alex Brightman (Wicked), Jason Michael Snow ( The Book of Mormon),  Lauren Conlin Adams (Upright Citizens Brigade), Andrew Kober  (Hair), Oscar Montoya (The Pit), Carly Sakolove (Girls Night) and Sam Tedaldi (Spidermusical).

Crazytown is a blog that I regularly write for (look for me every tuesday!) and on November 14th at 9:30pm the blog is going live at Joe’s Pub in NYC.  So come support!!