Synopsis

Brief Synopsis:

WYSIWYG (WIZ-ee-wig) or What You See Is What You Get is a timely story of how we disconnect from ourselves and each other as we plug into our electronic devices. The show exposes a world where people can live their lives defined by others or go online to live as they want, safely behind the anonymity of the Internet. Everyone can relate to how social media has changed the way we communicate with each other. The characters in WYSIWYG go online to live out their dreams and escape the harsh realities of the world. We witness the juxtaposition of their psyche online and offline, we experience their inner struggles with intimacy, authenticity and acceptance. Today, much of society has fallen into this trap and the pandemic has only amplified the problem. This show helps us escape from that.

Extended Synopsis:

Our story starts shortly after the millennium in a world dominated by interactions that happen on the World Wide Web, Ron a successful CEO contemplates his life and wonders how he went from an idealistic aspiring composer to a stuffy business man. He sits at his piano and starts to compose a song (“A Song For My Piano”) on how music is the most important outlet in his life. As he daydreams, April, his alter ego, takes over.

April, is a trans woman trying to find a real connection with a man that can love her for her. 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.”)

Ron is a bit taken back by the cheesy nature of the song, but applauds her tenacity to take on the sensitive topic, then encourages her to start the show with something a bit more common in musical theatre like her "want" song. April agrees and we're introduced to her family as they all sing ("Manana"); afterwards, her father gives her a pamphlet from the Gender Identity Center up in the city and recommends that she joins the group.

Now at the GIC (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. He gives the group and breathing exercise to calm everyone down and ask April and several new participants to shares their stories. April explains 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.

Next Denise, the newest member to the group, shares with the group 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 opens up about her frustrations and explains how the future isn't guaranteed and how the World Wide Web has allowed her to explore feelings she hasn't been able to share with her husband (“Live for today.”)

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”), April then dreams about her perfect life with Carl, (“Dreaming Again”) but the dream slowly fades 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, and finds Chuck D., she's surprised by his profile, that he likes to cuddle and hopes to settle down one day with a woman. So, April decides to create a new profile for herself: Online as Mary, she conjures how to connect with him (“Someone Who's Just Like You.”)

Opening the 2nd Act, 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. Then confronts her about her secret life online and storms out of the room. Denise laments her situation (“Only the Lonely”) before signing back in and asking April to meet her at Frank's Tavern.

It's open mic night at Frank's Tavern and Ron is the first performer ("The Sweet Bell That Tolls") and the bar goes crazy. After the show, Denise arrives 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.

Sometime later Carl drops by the Gender Identity Center where Mark informs him that they are doing a hypnosis session that evening and Carl asks if he can attend, Mark agrees, but Carl doubts he could ever 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 in real life despite the intimate relationship the two share online. April calls home for support and sings ("My Someday Comes Today.") As she leaves, Denise shows up and runs into Carl and refers to him by his screen name Chuck, 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. April proudly sings (“WYSIWYG Finale,”) but she questions why no one can love her as her and asks herself if she is even real. Ron emerges and serenades the audience at the piano with a closing soliloquy. Denise turns to Ron and lets him know that she's willing to work things out with him. Ron searches for the answer through song and April breaks down and starts to cry when Carl returns to give her some support and advice. He tells her that she is a real as anyone he has ever met and she deserves love, but that she can't go around living her life defined by others, then suggests that they all logout and login to life, she closes her laptop and they all sing together "What You See Is What You Get."