30.08.2017 - "Det Ny Teater" Kopenhagen

(B)ROMANCE - The Musical
A brand new Danish musical

“(B)Romance”, a brand new Danish musical, is set to premiere on October 14 th in “Det Ny Teater” in Copenhagen. Not often does one get a glimpse behind the development of a new musical, but thankfully Christian Berg, one of the creators and composers, met up with me to talk about the production process.

It is no coincidence that “(B)Romance” will have its premiere in “Det Ny Teater”. Christian himself has worked there as an actor many times and the creation of “(B)Romance” is directly linked to that place. It was during Christians time in “Love Never Dies” that he and Kasper Beknes – who is the producer of “(B)Romance” – had the idea of creating a space more intimate than “Det Ny Teater”, which is known for producing big theatre shows. That is how “Off Det Ny” was born on the stage downstairs “Det Ny Teater”, the same stage where “(B)Romance” will be played.

Komponist/Autor Christian Berg

In the process of doing shows “Off Det Ny” Christian came up with the idea of writing a completely new Show. “A show that I didn’t know anything about. All I knew was that I wanted to do it with my friend Mikkel Petterson, I wanted to write something about friendship and I wanted it to be called “(B)Romance”.”

The title alone, which is one of the only things that didn’t change during production, already tells a lot about the central themes of the musical. It is a story about friendship, about how men relate to each other, about love and – most of all – about forgiveness.

That was the beginning of “(B)Romance” back in 2013. Not long after the idea was born, Mikkel and Christian had almost an hour and a half of music. The original concept was to let “(B)romance” be a theatre concert with only Mikkel and Christian singing and playing with a small band. However, at some point in the production process they became ambitious. They realised that while concerts were something they could both always do, “(B)Romance” had the potential of turning into something unique.

Komponist/Autor Mikkel Kjær Petterson

As a result, the concert idea was dropped and “(B)Romance” was set to become a musical. To get the show right, Mikkel and Christian showed their concept to people working at theatres, who all said the same thing: The songs were great, but the story wasn’t convincing yet.

Thus, the idea of telling a story about different kinds of friendships was discarded. “(B)Romance” should instead focus on one friendship between two guys that breaks down, because they fall for the same woman, and later regenerates again. Even with the dramatic structure there still seemed to be something missing to make the audience truly care.

To understand how this great friendship could possibly break down because of a woman, this woman had to be seen on stage. Originally, Mikkel and Christian were very reluctant to include the woman. Since the focus was meant to be on the two guys, they should be the only characters on stage. While workshopping the show, however, they were convinced by their scriptwriter Andreas Garfield and their director Mads M. Nielsen to let the woman be seen.

Regisseur Mads M. Nielsen

As it turned out, these workshops helped to find out how the musical should be put together. Including the female character makes both the conflict between the two guys and the story itself more relatable. From not appearing at all the woman is now set to be in every scene and turned into the narrator of the show. A special narrator, because to make her be different from the two guys, it was decided that she could not speak, but dance instead.

“I think with the help of Andreas, Kasper and Mads we really could come up with a story that Mikkel and I could never have written, because it’s not something that occurred to us. Those three guys fixed all the little hurdles, the dramatic holes we had in the show. And they were really helpful with forcing us to push the story in the right direction.”

from left to right: Morten Hemmingsen, Selene Munoz, Johannes Nymark

Even if it helps a lot that Christian is an actor himself, developing a brand-new show comes with a lot of aspects one doesn’t necessarily think about when working as an actor. “As an actor, you’re just used to “them just giving you stuff”. You don’t think about where it comes from. There are a lot of little logistical things you are not aware of until you’re confronted with them. Now that I’ve produced a small show, I’m impressed with how much it must take to develop a big one. People that produce theatre are special people. They know a lot and they are very dedicated.”

It certainly takes a lot of dedication to keep working on one show for four years. The big hope for the premiere in October is to give “(B)Romance” a long life – to send it out to theatres around the world. “(B)Romance” is not a show with huge demands. It requires two guys that can sing and act and a female dancer. It is easily adaptable as well, both suited for high-school productions and productions with well-established actors. Since the script and songs have been written in English, exporting “(B)Romance” to other countries becomes easier, too.

So, what is the main reason why people should see “(B)Romance”?

What makes “(B)Romance” fascinating is its very 2017 turn with a new concept. Dialogue, music and dancing play an equal part in telling the story. The music has an old-fashioned style to it – like The Beatles or Randy Newman – which is the reason why “(B)Romance” was originally composed and written completely in English. In another way, it’s also much newer.

“(B)Romance” is a big show in a tiny format. While it borrows from the conventions of musical theatre, there is always a twist to these well-known ideas. “There will be a dance number, a traditional “Singing In The Rain” dance number, but perhaps this dance number will instead be done by two 95-year old men, who can barely move.”

“I really hope we get it right. We’ve lived with this material for four years and we’re just not tired of it. We do hope that we can give it a long life, because the way the show is now is good. I think the score and the script are beautiful and if we can get it right, it’s going to be something very special and unique.”

I want to thank Christian for the interview. Last but not least, I wish “(B)Romance” a lot of success at the premiere on October 14 th.

© Bericht: Lisa Murauer
© Fotos: Det Ny Teater

Den Bericht in etwas gekürzter Fassung und in Deutsch kannst du im musicalcocktail 131 (Okt./Nov. 2017) lesen.