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‘Listen Up’ Musical Playing at Outside Venues

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The cast and crew of “Listen Up.” Courtesy photo.

The “Listen Up” musical is coming to a town near you. The original musical based on the lives of Vermont teens will continue its outdoor tour in the following towns: Aug. 10 and 11, Landmark College, Putney; Aug. 13 and 14, Shelburne Museum; Aug. 15, State House Lawn, Montpelier.

The “Listen Up” original musical is inspired, created, and performed by Vermont teens. The show will go to the heart of current youth issues, including mental health, resilience, racial justice, sexual identity, friendship, love, family, community, social justice, and current issues that young people are grappling with including COVID, climate change and the future of Vermont for young people. Amar Vargas, who is a teen cast member, said “We just want to inspire adults to learn more about the stuff that teens are going through that they might not think about. ‘Listen Up’ brings these issues into the light.”

Teen cast member Avery Cutroni said “It’s a lot easier to convey these messages through song and dance.”

The “Listen Up” project began its creative process in the winter of 2019. Throughout that year, producer Bess O’Brien and her team traversed Vermont to talk with more than 800 teens about issues important to them. O’Brien then assembled a production team and engaged with teen writers and songwriters to produce a script based on true stories from young people living throughout Vermont. Auditions were scheduled in March of 2020, with a goal of touring the show that fall, however the COVID pandemic forced the team to take a year-long pause. 

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Now, a year later the show must go on!

“Listen Up” is gearing up for an exciting tour with 16 teens from across Vermont in the cast! In addition, six teens constitute the backstage crew and three teenagers make up the live band.

The “Listen Up” Project is generously underwritten by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont and the Vermont Department of Health, along with Burton Snowboards, VSAC, the Alchemist Foundation, a Vermont Afterschool Summer Matters grant, the Vermont Children’s Trust Fund, and the Fountain Fund.

“During the past 18 months we have seen the increase in mental health crises among youths spike to alarming levels,” says Don George, President and CEO of Blue Cross. “The ‘Listen Up’ Project offers a safe place for teens to speak openly and honestly about the challenges they face and to know they are not alone.”

“This project gives a collective voice to teens and gives parents and neighbors a keener understanding of their challenges,” says Dr. Josh Plavin, a primary care internal medicine and pediatrics physician, and the chief medical officer at Blue Cross. “‘Listen Up’ provides a creative space for young Vermonters to be their authentic selves and recognition of their individual talents.”

Tickets to a show are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Mature themes. Bring blankets and low back folding chairs! For more information and to order tickets please go to Listenupvt.org.