'Pregnancy Pact' At Weston Takes On Risky Topic Of Teen Pregnancy
08/31/12 5:30PM By Susan Keese  Download MP3
The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company winds up its Mainstage season this year with the premiere of a new pop-rock musical titled "Pregnancy Pact."
It takes on a risky topic: teen pregnancy."Pregnancy Pact" was inspired by a 2008 story in Time Magazine about an epidemic of teen pregnancies at Gloucester High in Massachusetts.
School officials claimed that at least seven of the girls had made a pact to become pregnant at the same time and raise their babies together. The story became a media sensation.
And although its truth was later cast in doubt, the story -- and the public's fascination with it -- left Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald wondering.
"We were intrigued by what would drive girls to make a drastic choice like that," Leary said.
"That was why the writing process was so fun, we were figuring it out," Meinwald said.
Leary wrote the script and lyrics and Meinhard created the score, which won the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company's 2011 New Musical Award.
"Pregnancy Pact" follows a group of fictional teens who make a pact similar to the one reported in Gloucester.
The play isn't for every one. It contains profanity and sexual content. But Leary says he and Meinwald tried to treat the subject matter, and the girls, respectfully and without judging either.
"I think a lot of them have something missing in their family life," Leary said. "A lot of it is finding the kind of unconditional love they feel that they missed out on."
Leary says the play is also about identity and the overwhelming choices teens face -- college, careers, marriage. Becoming a mother seems an easy way to settle the question
In one scene, four main characters are in the lavatory at school. One girl, Brynn, played by Margo Seibert, has taken a pregnancy test that came up positive.
Kaylee is played by Katrina Rose Dickerson and Maddie is played by Caitlin Kinnunen and Jeanelle is played by Dana Steingold.
"How could you let this happen?" Jeanelle says.
"Jeanelle, stop," Maddie says.
"It's fine. She can say whatever," Brynn says.
"Does Derrick know?" Maddie asks.
"We're not together anymore," Brynn responds.
"Well it's his, right?" Jeanelle asks.
"It's mine," Brynn answers.
The show's creators say each girl has her own story and her own reasons for agreeing to the plan. Brynn has lived in the shadow of her sister, who always gets the attention.
"Oh whatever," Kaylee says.
"Kaylee!" Maddie says.
"What? I'm not the one ruining my life," Kaylee says.
"I'm not ruining anything," Brynn says. "I was never going to be anything special... I don't need to be some like perfect girl."When her friends suggest they all live together like a family and help her raise her child, Brynn becomes possessive and tells them to get their own babies
Later, when they are pregnant, they ask Brynn, who's further along, what it feels like. She sings that she can feel the baby's "hummingbird heart" beating inside her.
"I can feel her little hummingbird heart," she sings. "She's like a tiny secret, that nobody gets to see. And I can feel her little hummingbird heart. And I'll keep her from the world, so it's only her and me."Co-creator Julia Meinwald says the girls are awash with strong feelings.
"And the songs in some way are a time for them to express that," Meinwald said. "And I think the music allows them to be more emotionally articulate than they can be with words"
In another song, Maddie talks about her parents' recent divorce. Her father has moved to the West Coast with her new stepmother.
"I see them twice a year, in the summer and at Christmas," Maddie sings. "And he gives me lots of presents.Then he puts me on a plane. I know that he loves me ‘cause I got a cashmere sweater. But even if he loves me. He still could love me better."
In the end, Maddie turns out to be the most emotionally complex character. We see her losing her virginity, and then beginning to fall in love. And that leads to conflict among the friends.
"Pregnancy Pact" raises so many questions for audiences that discussion sessions are scheduled after each performance. The company's bringing in a representative from Planned Parenthood, a high school guidance counselor and some students to lead the talks. There's also a matinee for high school classes, with a study guide for teachers.
And even though the play's creators say it isn't meant to be a cautionary tale, it should come as no great surprise that nothing turns out quite the way the girls expect it to.
"Pregnancy Pact" will be at the Weston Playhouse through September 8.