The Song of Summer

by Will Demers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 20, 2019

Anne Scurria and Charlie Thurston in "The Song of Summer" at the Trinity Rep through April 14.
Anne Scurria and Charlie Thurston in "The Song of Summer" at the Trinity Rep through April 14.  

Ever get a song stuck in your head? The kind of tune that may or may not be very good, yet perhaps rather catchy and can't seem to shake it? Pop star Robbie (Charlie Thurston) has composed a song, and performs it for the masses on his American tour. But another group lays claim to the composition, and Robbie's troubles are just beginning. Playwright Lauren Yee's latest contribution was commissioned by Trinity Repertory Company and premiered in Providence.

"The Song of Summer" chronicles our Robbie's journey to find a way to exonerate himself by finding the true inspiration for his song, a teenage flame named Tina (Tina Chilip). Tina just happens to be the daughter of his old piano teacher, Mrs. C (Anne Scurria) who adores him; but Tina had a super crush on Robbie when they were sixteen and he moved away without ever keeping in touch. His manager Joe (Joe Wilson, Jr.) is at wits end by the time Robbie leaves a concert and disappears to another state.

The state is Pennsylvania, the town is his own hometown, where Mrs. C lives and Tina, who had dreams of becoming a doctor, still resides with her adopted Mom. When Joe locates his missing pop star he insists that he return to the tour, but Robbie wants to forget his legal troubles and just fade away; that is until Joe helps them both hatch a plan: find the videotape that Robbie sent to Tina before he left. It should prove that he wrote the contested song when he was sixteen and didn't plagiarize.

Yee's breezy script is fun and funny, with hints of today's headlines, very much a modern story, but with a classic twist. Her characters are well fleshed out, and the company players are well up to the task of bringing something fresh to this production. The fabulous Anne Scurria makes her Mrs. C a delightful and sentimental lady who kept everything, including items from Robbie's childhood that his mother threw away. Chilip's Tina is a brash, tell it like it is youth whose language shocks just about everyone, including a hapless Robbie. The flashback scenes between her and Thurston are pure live theatre gold.

Joe Wilson, Jr. gives us an energetic yet frustrated manager, he throws everything at poor Robbie in fun tirades. While our jukebox hero is a talented musician, he isn't the brightest and is easily befuddled by Joe AND Tina. It here that Thurston shines the most; his Robbie is wide eyed, still rather innocent given his rise to fame and imbues a sense of longing for something he lost way back when in his hometown. Coming back will be a revelation for him. What also shines here is the clever set design by Adam Rigg, taking us from tour to hometown and a Waffle House with relative ease.

The cast also features William Derby as Brett, and the songs feature as a backdrop more than center stage. The story centers around Robbie and Tina in their quest for the truth, and maybe a resolution of what happened so many years ago. Trust me, it's fun to find out what happens.

"The Song Of Summer" is currently running through April 14th at Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903. For information or tickets call 401-351-4242 or visit