I am finishing up quite a few of my first round of cast albums I've been listening to. This time I finished Calvin Berger, an entertaining and creative modern high school interpretation of Cyrano de Bergerac. If you know the story of Cyrano, you pretty much know this story, except this one ends much more happily and the characters are high school seniors.
If it's totally new to you, here's the premise: Calvin and Matt are both in love with the beautiful Rosanna. Calvin is incredibly intelligent but has a comically large nose and is insecure about his appearance. Matt is handsome but nervous, shy, and not the brightest crayon in the box. They decide to work together, with Matt wooing Rosanna publicly while Calvin writes his love notes, crafts his texts, and scripts out his conversations. The truth is ultimately discovered (without everyone dying like in the original version), and love triangles are resolved with the students figuring out how to deal with their flawed personalities.
Overall, I liked this album a lot. Music and lyrics are both by Barry Wyner, who hasn't done any other full-length musicals, though I hope he will because these perfectly capture teenage angst. Man, if I had heard this album as a high schooler, I would have been all over it. My top five songs from the show are as follows.
5. More Than Meets the Eye. Rosanna raves to Calvin about how amazing Matt is in this song and how he seems not that bright sometimes, only to send a text or say a random thought that is so much deeper than he appears to be. (Needless to say, this is a bit weird for Calvin to hear since he's the one responsible for all the great things Matt is saying.)
4. Don'tcha Think? A fun little tune at the beginning of the show where Calvin's best friend Bret helps him realize that he's in love with Rosanna. This song was actually the first song that I ever heard from this show, and it's insanely catchy.
3. We're The Man. This was the first song in the show that I really loved. Calvin and Matt have two of the best songs in the show. Matt is such a likable character who manages to be the target of many of the cast album's jokes without becoming a pathetic character because he's such a cheerful character, and the two boys have great repartee going back and forth in this song.
2. Never Know. I really enjoy unusual counterpart, and that works here wonderfully, as Calvin tries to help Matt memorize a romantic rap to share with Rosanna. The song is about a third Matt practicing, a third Calvin coaching, and a third Calvin singing to himself about how weird it is that this is all working out somehow.
1. How Can I Compete With That. Of all the (many) unrequited love songs in the show, this is the one that hits home the hardest. The whole group sings individually about their insecurities, and it's a quiet little angst-fest that has some funny but honest lyrics expressing their frustration with themselves.