“You just need to put yourself out there more.”
“Just stop trying. It happens when you least expect it.”
“Have you tried joining a club?”
“Have you tried Match.com?”
“I don’t know what to tell you. I’m just so glad I’m not in your shoes.”
Like many things in life, when it comes to dating people are always eager to offer advice. Often, in addition to it being unsolicited, it is conflicting.
Dating has never been easy, and with the invention of lottery-like Tinder apps presented to a world plagued by FOMO it has become almost like a battlefield. A battlefield that seems to have a lot of casualties.
But whether you’ve succumbed to the notion that dating is doomed or you’re happily cuddled up next to the love of your life, playwrights Shannon McDonald and Brittany Shrimpton and composer Rosie Sauvageau feel you can get a laugh out of it.
After all, no matter where you are in your journey of love, we can all admit there are some humorous bumps along the way.
And McDonald and Shrimpton have used those bumps as inspiration for their musical, “Right, Wrong or Bomb! A Dating Musical.”
Dating, romance and relationships are popular topics across entertainment mediums, but what specifically made you want to write something on the topic?
McDonald: A big inspiration for this project came from the stories we would hear over the years from family and friends about their online dating woes or successes. Listening to these stories made us excited to share the joys, trials and tribulations of online dating as a new way to tell the timeless story of searching for love. That and we love musical theater!
I can see why you chose to make it a musical then! So, obviously some of the audience members won’t be online dating, or even dating at all. What do you think is something everyone can relate to in the show?
McDonald: One of the complaints made by Jill, the protagonist in the play, is that it is so difficult to meet someone “organically.” We think a lot of people can relate to the sentiment that it is difficult to simply meet people these days. That’s why, [we believe,] online dating has really taken off as a means to find love and companionship. The other aspect that we want to communicate is that no matter how you meet a person, whether it’s by bumping into someone at a grocery store or finding someone through online dating, making yourself open to love comes with hopes, great expectations and vulnerability. Those feelings are universal and are a great way to connect to one another’s experiences.
That’s very true. I think no matter what state of a relationship you are in, everyone has felt vulnerability and hope. Tell me, what’s the worst piece of dating advice you’ve ever gotten? The best?
McDonald: The worst advice we’ve gotten is to not consider online dating. This advice usually comes from people who are already in relationships and haven’t had to meet someone recently. Yes, online dating can be frustrating, but it has become such a mainstream means of meeting people that we want to promote the idea that there is no shame in trying it out.
The best piece of advice was, I was dating someone a while back and even though he was a great guy I just wasn’t feeling a connection. He had so many great qualities and was a good person who treated me very well, so I was confused and wasn’t sure what to do. So, I asked one of my gal pals and she gave me a great piece of advice. She said, “You are great and he is great, but you just aren’t that into him. And that’s okay. However, remember that someday you may be with someone who isn’t that into you, and that doesn’t mean you aren’t great.” It’s okay to admit that you aren’t into someone, even if he or she is great. And just because someone isn’t into you, it doesn’t mean you aren’t great.
That is really great advice, especially because I think it’s hard to remember that when we find out someone isn’t that into us. So, are any of the dating stories in the show based on true life events?
McDonald: Yes, but of course the names were changed! As part of the creative development process we held several date-storytelling gatherings with friends. It was so fun to listen and share stories of dates that had gone horribly wrong! [While this inspired] the scenes when Jill goes on dates, [it] also [really inspired] the friendship Jill has with her two best friends, Hayley and Maya. That bond of sharing the highs and lows of searching for love with friends is so important to Jill’s journey. It is something we think our audience will find very relatable.
In the show, Jill is struggling to find someone. What would you tell someone who is struggling to find someone?
McDonald: Jill, like many people, struggles to be ready to be truly open to finding someone. So, perhaps the advice for finding someone is to make sure you have a good support system to encourage, and sometimes push, you to be open to letting that someone special into your life.
Having a support system is incredibly important when putting yourself out there! If there was a message that audiences would take from the show, what would you want that to be?
McDonald: We all have our own journeys and there is no right or wrong way to find love. But I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay.
I think that’s another wonderful thing to remember, we’re all going to be okay. So, with February coming up and Valentine’s Day on the horizon there are a lot of other romantically-themed movies or plays opening. Why should someone come see your show?
McDonald: “Right, Wrong or Bomb! A Dating Musical” is a light-hearted and fun look into how people date in the 21st century. We think the audience will relate to the story and characters of the show and will also be very entertained.
“Right, Wrong or Bomb! A Dating Musical” opens Thursday, Jan. 28 and runs through Jan. 31. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Illusion Theater. Tickets cost $17 for general admission, $13 for students and seniors. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Illusion Theater online.