TRANS AM, by Lisa Stephen Friday, directed by Fred Berman. Photo by Cameron Whitman Photography.

DC Theatre Scene: TRANS AM

Trans rock star Lisa Stephen Friday debuts her personal story in TRANS AM

At its heart, Trans Am is an autobiographical ode in the style of a rock opera, that draws inspiration from the folk-rock like stereotype of the singer-storyteller. Lisa Stephen Friday, in her one-woman autobiographical show receiving its world premiere at Keegan Theatre, brings us on a hybrid journey of traditional coming out stories and traditional rise to fame stories, and all the wildness they both entail.

The opening is a fun, nostalgic look into the queer codes hidden in rock and roll and in pop culture, as well as straight up honoring the queer icons that the LGBQT+ community held so dear for so long.

However, in the first 20 minutes of the show, even though we’re rocking along with Friday’s life, not much changes. Her musical conversing about her life story feels like it’s going nowhere because the chords rarely change save for interspersing another musical lick. But once [Trans Am breaks from the sonic monotony], the show really takes off.

Her formerly static energy gives us lovely highs and excellent nuances, and shows us her command of language and strong performance technique. Her physicality is delightful and fun; she moves with all the confidence and bravado of a true rock star, with the vocals to match. Friday’s vocals are powerful, and the songs by the NYC band Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday shifted between catchy and uplifting to somber and heartfelt.

This is a piece that shows great insight; reliving her past self who was unable to speak her truth because she did not have the vocabulary. That alone is such a powerful and universal thing to witness. In a small way, especially for those of us in the queer community, it reminds us to respect the journey of those who came before us and proudly paved the way. Those who walked so we could run.

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