GTPulse: Mash-Up Rock and Roll Celebrates Inclusivity with Holiday Show

I’ve never had the pleasure of being in a newly written play. My theatre kid days were spent with Tennesee Williams, Agatha Christie, Arthur Miller and other older plays from another time. Old plays suit old times, and there aren’t many modern, mainstream new plays that represent a society that values inclusivity. Mash-Up Rock & Roll Musical combines music, pop culture and theatrical fun that promotes tolerance and inclusivity through their live shows and this year they’re bringing back the show that started it all, How Grinchy Met The Who.

Kristen Stewart is a part of the theatre troupe that is Mash-Up Rock & Roll and sat down with me to talk about their mission and upcoming performance. 

“It’s called a troupe because the group puts on other shows. So, you don’t audition for the show you audition for the troupe. I think there are 15 of us, it’s on the smaller side.”

She got involved with the troupe after watching a performance they put on. She worked with Lesly and Tony at Old Town Playhouse. They were all working on Young Frankenstein and Kristen auditioned to be a part of the troupe after. It’s her second year involved in the troupe, but Mash-Up Rock & Roll has been around since 2013. Mash-Up is the brainchild of Lesley Alicia Tye and Tony Bero. The shows are all original and are written and directed by Lesley. Tony handles the musical aspect of the shows as the musical director and bandleader. The shows are meant to be a celebration of the weird, and promotion of inclusion.

Past shows include other musical parodies like Bromeo vs The Juliettes and The Sound of Uzis. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was the canvas for Bromeo vs The Juliettes, a parody of the original that is set in the 1990s on the night before the Battle of the Bands. At the end of each show, the audience got to vote for the band winner.

“The Juliettes were like the Spice Girls and the Bromeos were like N’Sync, Backstreet Boys. They did it completely in drag.”

Mash-Up musicals find fun and creative ways to get audience members involved in the show, and they find ways to make sure under-represented people are shown in their stories, with a focus on LGBTQ people.

Another facet of inclusivity that Mash-Up is incorporating is providing an ASL interpreter at shows.

“During Little Prince we had an interpreter who worked with us during the rehearsal process, signing the entire thing. We had a whole section of the audience that was a part of the deaf community. We’ll have an interpreter on the 20th for Grinchy, too.” 

The troupe does not have a set home and has performed all over Traverse City. This upcoming performance of How Grinchy Met the Who will be their first time performing at The Grand Traverse Circuit Theater, a newer space that was converted from a church.

Even though the show is a parody of the original, it will still have all the psychedelic colors, rhymes, and Seuss-iness that one would want from the original story. Grinchy was the first-ever performance written and put on by Mash-Up in 2013. Some of the cast members have been around since that show and have warmly embraced taking on their old roles they took on six years ago. Oftentimes an actor doesn’t get to perform the same show and being able to return to a show and a role, I imagine, feels like seeing a long lost friend.

The show has a lot of subtle, adult humor but it is a show that can be enjoyed by all. Adults will enjoy the laughs, and kids will enjoy the loud and energetic musical numbers.

“It’s lighthearted, it’s silly, it’s fun rock music. I wouldn’t call it a kids show but it’s fairly appropriate for kids, I think those tongue in cheek details would be glossed over by a kid.” 

The holidays bring shopping, parties, and extra fun with family and loved ones. Christmas classics like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol were always attended by me and my mom. I can’t recall ever going to see a show quite like How Grinchy Met The Who, but I’m excited for the inspired show and for the strides that Mash-Up Rock and Roll Musical will continue to make in making theatre an experience for all to enjoy.

Categories: GTPulse