By: Iris Wiener
February 1, 2022: Joe Iconis musicals have typically demonstrated the songwriter’s innate, brilliant knack for storytelling through song (see Be More Chill, Love in Hate Nation and The Black Suits for a taste). With Punk Rock Girl !, his and Rob Rokicki’s latest offering currently debuting at the Argyle Theatre in Babylon, the Tony-nominated songwriter takes on a jukebox musical to delightful results. Here are a few of the many reasons why audiences will enjoy this rockin’, world premiere experience:
1. The music celebrates women at all turns, with fun earworms from Avril Lavigne, Pat Benatar, P!nk, Hole and No Doubt, among other lesser known artists like Sleater-Kinney and Tralala. Iconis chose numbers and artists that elevate the story exponentially with humor and heart. Plus, keen audiences will pick out an Iconis original, “Music and Math,” an exceptional number in Act One.
2. In true Joe Iconis fashion, Punk Rock Girl ! is an upbeat jukebox musical written for misfits and those who feel othered. Though the story is centered on Angela Quivers (Ashley LaLonde), a perfectionist who is set in her ways and lacks a sense of belonging, it features a large cast of characters of all shapes, sizes and colors who help her find community and a sense of being seen. The exceptional inclusivity allows for myriad possibilities in casting; seeing as how Iconis wrote the musical with the intention of having it re-produced by high schools, it is a major win for young thespians who aren’t normally cast in lead roles.
3. Rob Rokicki’s arrangements and orchestrations set it apart from other jukebox musicals. Songs both popular and unknown are given new life as they cross genres and stylistically adapt to the quirky characters performing them. The overall sound design (credited to Carlos Dias, Jr.) is akin to a huge Broadway undertaking, making the show feel larger than life.
4. Teens will be in awe at the sight of Nate Bertone’s dynamicset, which features artwork, schoolwork, notes and drawings written by real teachers and students from around the world. An enormous collage showcases graffiti and math equations, immediately setting the tone for a grunge-rock funfest while celebrating community and togetherness.
5. Punk Rock Girl ! marks the first time Iconis, a Garden City native, has enjoyed one of his musicals near his roots on Long Island (though mention of Long Island does pop up in his other work). Punk Rock Girl ! celebrates New York and finding one’s self, so what better way for Iconis to align real-life with his musicals than to bring the power of appreciating one’s differences to a new generation of teenage Long Islanders?
Punk Rock Girl ! is playing through February 27th at The Argyle Theatre, 34 W. Main Street, Babylon. Visit argyletheatre.com for tickets and more information.
Photography: Richard Termine