WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) the Musical is a timely story of how we navigate the world around us defined by others and how we can live our lives online, safely behind the anonymity of the Internet. April, a transgender woman, can live online fully as a woman without concern for the complicated interactions that often come when meeting men in person. While feelings and emotions expressed online are real, they remain hidden and elusive in the cold reality of our day to day lives; irrevocably, she must choose between the safe life she has created online and the unknown possibilities found in the real world.
Our story starts shortly after the millennium in a world dominated by interactions that happen on the World Wide Web, April, a trans woman is trying to find a real connection with a man that can love her for her. When we first meet April, she explains that music is her greatest outlet in life (“A Song For My Piano”). April tells us that she doesn’t live a normal life and that as a trans person, life and love are complicated. So, she wrote us a show, about the closest she's been to a love that is normal. She wonders why people treat her differently and what the big deal is, but decides, that this is a musical and it should start with a lively number (“Hoopla”).
At the Gender Identity Center, April attends a group meeting lead by Mark, the group counselor. He focuses the meeting on love and more importantly the idea of self-love. April shares her story explaining that living as a man felt odd to her and the only time she ever felt like herself was when she dressed as a woman; yet that has come with its own set of difficulties especially when it comes to relationships (“What’s Wrong With Me”). After April finishes, Denise, the newest member to the group shares that it is her husband that has driven her to therapy. She complains that he has been dressing up as a woman and the new behavior is damaging their relationship. He constantly pushes her away, while refusing to discuss anything with her. She reminisces the good times, opens up and then wonders if she is somehow to blame (“What’s Wrong With Me”).
Finally, Carl, the guest speaker for the meeting has arrived and April is immediately drawn to him. Carl focuses his conversation with the group on the importance of finding balance in the things that are always constant about ourselves and not the things that constantly change (“Some Things Never Change”). As Carl engages the group, he notices that April isn’t participating, then ensnares her with a simple childhood melody. Mark is overjoyed with the successful conclusion of the exercise and ends the session with an affirmation. The group session comes to an end.
After the group session, Mark suggests that the participants go to a bar nearby for a few drinks. April tries to flirt with Carl, but her skills are slightly lacking and she decides it’s best to just sit down and do some work. April watches from a near by table as Denise effortlessly flips her hair and shamelessly puts the moves on Carl. When Mark approaches April, who is working on her computer, she laughs, catching him off guard. She explains that she’s been speaking with several men online and hopes to someday meet one of them in person (“I’m in it for Good”). Mark asks April if she has told the men online that she is trans. She tells him that there are two boxes to check, male or female, and she checks female, stating it would be dishonest for her to check anything else. But Mark, questions if the men she’s chatting with online feel the same way about her honesty, suggesting that she not get lost in a world online and forget to live in the here and now.
Meanwhile, Denise, completely unabashed, is laying the moves on Carl. When Carl questions how Denise’s husband would feel about her flirting so openly, she snaps and tells him not to mention her husband. After noticing that Carl is looking at women on his smartphone, she begins to question him about whether or not he’s trans, and more than that, what gives him the right to try to tell people how to manage their lives, doesn't he know that everything always works out for the best (“For the Best”).
Having convinced April to join the rest of the group at the table, Mark slides into the booth next to her squeezing her between himself and Carl. April notes that the Chicago Bears made an offer to a player she believes to be worthless, and Carl states that he’s surprised she likes football. He notes that the two have that in common. The group decides it’s time to drink. As the alcohol washes away their veneers, they begin to open up to each other (“Drinking Song”). April begins to imagine being on a date with Carl. She imagines herself with a softer jaw line and her Adams apple gone; a simple date between man and woman (“Secret Emotions”), but the images slowly fade as the voices in the bar become louder and louder.
Back at the bar, Denise questions April’s sexuality, asking her if she’s gay and just in denial. April explains that she wants a relationship with a man who likes women, but Denise explains to her that men only want one thing, S.E.X. (“All Men Want is Sex”). April becomes intrigued and asks to know more about having sex with men. Denise tells her that she should grow up, be a woman and get “laid”.
April parts ways with Denise and returns to her computer. She begins to look for Carl’s profile, Chuck D., and decides to create a new profile herself: Mary to connect with him. April starts to imagine her perfect life with Carl, (“Dreaming Again”) but as the dream fades and she finds herself back at the bar.
Then we see, April, Denise and Carl, all on their electronic devices as their alter egos, living out their deepest desires (“World Wide Web”). Denise, under the screen name Whitney, relentlessly engages in sexual encounters with Carl, who on the other side is emotionally engaging with April.
After chatting all night long, April as Mary, and Carl as Chuck, continue their conversation. April explains to Carl that she plays the piano and he asks for a photo of her playing, but April tells Carl that she isn’t good at photos and she shares a MP3 of a song she wrote for him that morning instead (“It’s a Feeling”). He loves the song and tells April he wants to hold her in his arms.
At Denise’s home, she informs her husband, Ron, that she has being seeing a counselor and she'd like him to join her. He blows up at her for sharing the details of their personal lives with strangers. He screams that she’s a narcissist who needs to keep her mouth shut in the future and storms out of the room. Denise laments her situation (“Only the Lonely”) before signing back in and asking April to meet her. She hopes that April might help her marriage.
April and Denise meet at the bar and the conversation quickly goes downhill when Denise inadvertently refers to April as a man. April becomes angry, starts to leave, turns and tells Denise that her problem is how she chooses to communicate with people. Shocked, Denise gets it, apologizes and thanks April for her candor. They laugh it off, but Denise starts to realize she's been unkind (to many people) and tells April she'll try to be a better friend in the future.
Meanwhile, at the Gender Identity Center, Carl drops in on Mark, who informs him that they are doing a hypnosis session that evening and Carl asks if he can attend. When Mark says he’ll have to participate, Carl doubts he could be hypnotized. As Mark gets ready for a meeting, April stops in only to find Carl mistakenly call her Angel. He seems to look right past her, making her feel invisible, despite the very intimate emotional relationship the two share online, they seem to be strangers in real life. As April leaves, Denise shows up and calls Carl by his screen name, monetarily confusing him. They all agree to attend the hypnosis session later in the evening.
Then back at their homes, April and Carl continue their conversation online. Carl admits that he sees a future with Mary, April’s online alter ego, and begins asking for a photo causing April to abruptly signoff. The two question what this online relationship is, wondering if it might be love (“Up to Us”). When Denise tries to engage Carl in some online foreplay, he shuts her down telling her he’s simply not into it. Denise expresses the isolation and loneliness that comes from hollow online connections (“Secret Admirer”).
At the group therapy session that evening, April, Denise and Carl fall deeply under hypnosis. April begins to let her inhibitions fall away, she explains that she’s afraid to express the one thing she truly wishes to say. Carl rises to meet April and says that he feels the same way, then April hears the words she’s always wanted to hear (I love you) in the music (“In the Harmony”). The two embrace, causing Denise to become cynical and worried for April. Denise has known men like Carl her whole life and knows that he will never embrace April as his partner, but it’s too late…April has heard the magic words.
When Mark snaps his fingers, April confesses that she’s been Mary the whole time. Carl becomes irritated and confused, telling April that it will never happen, that it’s bizarre, kinky and completely insane, then storms out. Denise tries to comfort April and tells her that she has felt the same pain and disappointment, then mentions how Ron changed that for her, that they use to dream about a house with a yard too and how April has helped her understand what she truly has with Ron, but April cries and questions why no one can love her as her (“Why Can’t Someone Love Me?”).
Lamenting that she was never destined for a real love she retreats to her piano and starts to sing, Mark stops her, saying she’s as real as anyone else and that she deserves love. He explains to her that she can’t live her life defined by others and that she doesn’t sing because she’s happy, she’s happy because she sings. April then accepts that she may never experience the type of love found between genetic men and women, but that "authenticity" is the key to a happier, healthier more meaningful existence, closes her laptop and sings (“What You See is What You Get”).