Runaways is a zestful, revelatory musical on the heart of children, and it swept through the New York City Center from July 6 to the 9. Directed by Sam Pinkleton and Chris Fenwick (Music Director), when you see the cast of children exude their incredible talents and minds, you are naturally moved, but when their storyline reveals the abuse, abandonment, and all- out anarchy they are facing, you admire their resilience. Children are some of the most virtuous beings on earth, which is why many cried and smiled at Elizabeth Swados masterpiece.
Runaways is a musical written and composed by Elizabeth Swados, whom based it off of interviews she conducted with runaway teens during the 1970’s. The insanity of this musical is that not only does it contain cringingly true stories, but it is still so prevalent today. Homeless youth rates are rising rapidly, and the tragic narrative remains the same: poverty, drug addiction, and/or abusive parents have left these children fending for themselves in an adult world. As one of my favorite and most notable songs of the show, “Let Me Be a Child” reminisces, why can’t these children run in the schoolyard or go to school or have simple, innocent lives? No one should undergo atrocities and recklessness over their emotional, physical, and mental safety, but, when it is children, the truth of that fact seems double because a child is defenseless.
This cast of kids are and represent the brightness of children as beacons of light for and in humanity. They are smart, talented, and so openly honest with their sentiments that they force audience members to be vulnerable, as well. There are no barriers or facades in Runaways. It is about showing the horrors of being a runway teen, while showing the tragic beauty of being a good person in such a situation. Yes, there is humor and wonderful dance, as choreographed by Ani Taj, but this show is about exemplifying the whimsical, resilient nature of a child as it is pummeled by cold adults. In the song, “Where Are Those People Who Did ‘Hair’?, the cast sings and muses on how once “revolutionary” youth of previous generations have become the same institutions they rebelled against: going from Woodstock to the heads of Wall Street. The children’s perceptive intelligence and intellect strikes viewers as you ponder why things are getting worse or endangerment still exists for youth: has not every generation sworn to be different and better than the last. Each of the children in the cast are as enlightening as the children left without homes. The difference is, because of their situation, homeless youth will probably never get the opportunity to show and foster their light for the world or stage.
The monologues are both magnificent fragments of what spoken word should be and important in revealing that being a child in a world of adults is not always adorable; it can be endangering. In “Appendectomy”, starring actress Frenie Acoba, a child remembers and reenacts, through her doll, the torments of living with a mentally ill mother. In “I Went Back Home”, starring actress Ripley Sobo, a young girl terrifyingly recollects her parent’s violent outburst towards her with glass from a broken tv screen and boiling, hot water. In “Do We Have to Die?”, starring Ren, and “To The Dead of Family Wars”, starring Deandre Sevon, you see that if it is not the streets that destroy these kids, it is the toxicity of a cruel, family “home”. Absolutely every single viewer of this production had a moment of “I can adopt you!”. These kids are so vibrant that the idea of them cold, hungry, and sick in the streets seems like an atrocious act and a societal failure, which youth homelessness is.
Homelessness is it too rampant a problem in America, and, with more children being subjected to become a depressing statistic, something must be done. Ultimately, what this Encores Off-Center production has done is show the tragedy of cutting a child’s ability to dream into pieces. When you are kid, dreams are limitless and possible. Yet, when you are a child broken and homeless because of the meanness of the world and elders, that freedom to dream is numbed. Though they try to wish for better futures, Runaways shows the sadness of being homeless youth is that you can feel so old and tired.
Check Out This Stellar Cast: Frenie Acoba, Sumaya Bouhbal, Kenneth Cabral, Maxwell Cabral, Taylor Caldwell, Sophia Anne Caruso, Xavier Casimir, Joshua DeJesus, Adleesa Edwards, Aidan Gemme, Reyna Guerra, Matthew Gumley, Christina Jimenez, Kylie McNeill, Cele Pahucki, Sam Poon, Siena Rafter, Claudia Ramirez, Ren, MJ Rodriguez, Deandre Sevon, Jeremy Shinder, Ripley Sobo, Chris Sumpter, and Maxwell Vice
For More Information on Encores! Off- Center Production or Runaways The Musical Click Here
The show was 80 minutes without intermission, and played in The New York City Center: located on 130 W55 Street New York, NY 10019