‘Becoming Nancy’ Engrosses Audiences Throughout the Southeast

While the musical title “Becoming Nancy” is not well known around the country yet, it has created sparks in Atlanta’s theater community during the five weeks that it played at the Alliance Theatre. 

The musical takes place in 1979 in East Dulwich, England, but tells a story that resonates with people around the world in the 21st century. It shares the tale of David Starr (Zachary Sayle) coming to terms with himself and his sexuality with the help of his friend Maxie Boswell (Jake Boyd).

“Beyond that the show is set in 1979 in a different country on a different continent, it’s actually very close to my own story,” Boyd said. “I think what’s really beautiful about this show is that there is so much opportunity to find yourself in so many different characters. It’s just been really wonderful to bring these stories to life and to see that effect on other people.” 

Audiences returned again and again to find themselves in the lines and lyrics of the show. 

“The first time I came, I had no idea what it was,” audience member Braxton Blankenship said. “My friend just asked me to come along with her and some friends to come see the show. Sitting in the audience, it just overtook me. Watching [David’s] struggles with his family, their thought process and the things that they say are reminiscent of things that have happened in my life.”

Blankenship lives in Troy, Alabama, and made the three hour drive to Atlanta not once but four times in total to see “Becoming Nancy.”

“Especially here in the South, it’s a story that needs to be told,” he said. “I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in these seats watching this story and thinking, ‘My family needs to be here.’ Being part of the LGBT community myself, as a gay male, I think it’s very important that we start having more stories about this, so we can open up more dialogue with people about the matter.”

LGBTQ+ individuals were not the only audience members who found their own stories reflected in the musical. The black character Francis Bassey (Jasmine Rogers) also faces her own struggles with her racist classmates. Throughout the production, she attempts to have her peers see her for herself and not for her race. 

“It was so great to see the civil rights issues that go on in other countries besides America, because I’m only familiar with the U.S.,” audience member Sheridan Davenport said. “As a black woman, I don’t want you to just see me as my skin. See me as who I am.”

Besides racial and sexual minorities, younger and older audiences alike were entranced by the musical’s theme of ‘you matter.’ Even as the actors on the stage were mid sentence, the room erupted into applause and cheers multiple times throughout the performance. 

“Everyone goes through a stage of feeling alone and they’re the only person going through something tumultuous in their life,” “Becoming Nancy” ensemble member Paul Schwensen said. “If they can just feel that connection with one other person, it helps them feel so much more important. They are valuable, because everyone on this Earth deserves to be here.”