The curtains opened and closed one final time on the performance of Elizabeth Swados’ musical “Runaways,” to which LMU Theatre Department performed beautifully. This thrilling performance left you feeling windblown and hyped on life. However, if you were looking for a relaxing night at the theatre to forget about your troubles, this was not the show to see.
Rendered in a mixture of English, Spanish and Swados’ original "Runaways" language, the very talented students of LMU showcased their incredible capabilities. Also, the stunning and true-to-life sets made by the scene workers had you feeling captivated by the show beyond the performances. The cast and crew used a level of transparency where they left their hearts on the stage for all to see. It was hard not to feel for each and every one of these troubled characters.
If you are unfamiliar with the musical, it is about the lives of kids who run away from home and live on city streets. The audience sees a racially diverse mix of children who explore the combustible life that is being a runaway in a bustling city. Through the use of monologues and songs, the children investigate and explain why they ran away in the first place. Their stories range from being abused to coming from fragmented families or being thrown into orphanages. They are all highly emotional and seen as victims by some, yet also as criminals and outsiders by others. They plead into the abyss which substitutes their parents. The bigger picture is that, not only are they pleading with their absent parents, but society as well. They often asked, "Why can’t we just be kids again?"
The Theatre Arts program could not have chosen a more appropriate musical to perform on LMU’s campus. As college students, we are in that in-between stage of life where we are trying to figure everything out before graduation hits us like bricks thrown into glass houses. These children and teenagers are doing the same. They are questioning and struggling between the two worlds of being a kid and growing up into adults.
The fact that students took up a large portion of the audience allowed for a greater sense of relatability to the characters. Whether you are a freshman or senior, the runaways were comprised of a group mentality that merged into one urgent and indispensible voice. They screamed that, "You are not alone in whatever you may be feeling."
Sophomore theatre arts and psychology double major Rose Raddatzl, spoke highly of the performance. She felt that, “The musical really spoke to the lives of runaway children and the struggles they faced. Every character’s story was unique and really made you think.”
Another student, senior communication studies major Anna Carothers, said, “You could just tell how much time and effort was put into every detail of the musical. From the set, to the acting, to the singing and costumes — everything was just very well done.”
This was a show that none should have missed. However it could have benefitted from a tad more variety in terms of tone. It somewhat felt that every number was the epic finale which begs the question: How could a cast with this much talent and passion be subdued?
Given the fact that this musical originated several decades ago, it was almost impossible to pinpoint its age. Sure, there wasn't the presence of cell phones which was a major hint we were not in present day. Despite the time aspect of the setting, the cast wonderfully portrayed the world where being a grown up seems to be incomprehensible, dividing and quite opposite to really being an adult, which felt way too close to home and incredibly relatable.
This is the opinion of Hannah Baker, a junior communications studies major from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.