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Musical ‘Sing Street’ channels retro pop music into a love story

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Musical ‘Sing Street’ channels retro pop music into a love story
Courtnee Carter and Adam Bregman in rehearsal for "Sing Street."

“Sing Street” is tapping, swishing and singing its way onto The Huntington stage August 26 through October 2. The lively musical, set in Dublin in the 1980s, tells a coming-of-age love story through danceable music that references the sounds of beloved ’80s bands such as Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and The Cure.

The company of “Sing Street.” PHOTO: LIA CHANG

The backdrop for the story is bleak. In 1982 Dublin, everyone is out of work and times are hard. Many are leaving town in search of ways to provide for their families. But 18-year-old Conor’s focus is on a mysterious girl named Raphina, played by Courtnee Carter. When Conor, with the help of his buddies, forms a band to impress and get to know Raphina, their music ends up providing more than just a meet-cute.

“It definitely reminds me of those times when I had a shell around myself and I felt like I couldn’t be myself,” says Carter. “Finding the arts was where I found my people, and I think Raphina does that through music.” Conor and Raphina use the music to escape their troubles at home and find their place in a difficult time and a struggling community.

The show features a 15-person cast and will be the largest production ever presented at The Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. It’s worth this new challenge for the energy and entertainment of the show, which brings fun to the stage without neglecting the difficult realities of life.

The company of “Sing Street.” PHOTO: LIA CHANG

“Sing Street” originated in 2016 as a film by John Carney (creator of “Once”) and was adapted for the stage in 2020. It was intended to hit Broadway that year, but COVID-19 shutdowns postponed the run. The Huntington will host the new musical for its pre-Broadway run before it possibly returns to Broadway this winter.

Carter notes that the musical has a different feel from others because of its distinctive ’80s-style pop score. “It doesn’t really sound like musicals that are being developed today — it’s a little more raw and a little more poetic,” she says. It sounds more like a new album than a stage performance.

Just as Raphina and Conor use their band to ignite their young love and deal with the world around them, Carter hopes the musical brings a bright spot to Boston audiences. “It’s about the healing power of music, and I think that’s what we all need, a little light, a little love, a little healing,” says Carter. “I hope people can feel uplifted.”