A musical about overcoming stigma and moving on from high school.
Benjamin & Jean, two high school seniors/lovers, narrowly escape Trix, a member of a Chicago-based drug cartel, after demanding a sum of money she owes them (Overture). At Plainview High School, a student named Karen confronts her Vice Principal, feeling the school has made no effort to participate in the investigation to find Karen’s missing friend and peer, Tommy Wheeler. Karen & her fellow classmates lament the pains of being a teenager (Keep It Together). Benjamin and Karen are members of the Science Alliance, a prestigious science club at Plainview. The club is interrupted by former club member Haley Walter Keys, who fails to persuade the others to reinstate him as a member. Later, Jean wants to steal back the money Trix has withheld. Benjamin refuses, since Trix is in a relationship with their boss, crime lord Landon Casey. Benjamin first began working for Landon so he could afford Princeton tuition. Jean fears the future (Keep It Together [Reprise]). Jean is approached by Haley Walter Keys, who seeks a job working for Landon so he can pay off illegal materials for his latest entry in the Illinois State Science Convention (ISSC). Haley tells Jean of his severe haphephobia, a rare anxiety disorder that keeps him from being able to endure physical contact of any kind with other human beings. Despite his disorder, Haley cares deeply for the human race, and believes “pain will ease when we can see each other’s worth” (The World and its People). Karen’s perception of Haley has changed and she defends him against the other Alliance Members, eventually deciding to quit the club (The Voice of the Future). Haley helps Jean steal back the money from Trix by sneaking into The Jolly Day Café (Landon’s bar) and breaking into Trix’s personal safe. Alone, Jean reveals through song that she is a heroin addict (Nobody/Somebody). Karen agrees to help Haley win ISSC Preliminaries. When a student named Todd goads Haley in the hallways, a fight ensues. Many onlookers side with Todd, Jean and Karen side with Haley. Karen and Benjamin wonder if the things that were once so important to them matter at all (Last One Standing). Haley and Jean express gratitude toward each other for their newfound friendship (Barrier). Benjamin reveals to Jean that he was not accepted to Princeton. He tells her of his intentions to skip town, and wants Jean to come with him (I’ll Have It All). Jean returns to The Brain. She tells Haley of her heroin addiction. Haley realizes that to show her how much she has meant to him, he will have to touch Jean (Prototype). Benjamin professes his love for Jean and urges her to have faith in his new plan for their lives (Benjamin’s Defense). Jean is initially enticed by Benjamin’s proposal (Nobody/Somebody [Reprise]). After an eye-opening confrontation between Haley, Jean, and Karen, Jean comes to the profound conclusion that she is ready to gracefully accept the joys and pains life has to offer (Capacity). Karen rejoins the Science Alliance and throws herself into her ambition, regardless of whether she is fulfilled internally (Touch the Sky). At ISSC Preliminaries, Haley arrives to present his invention (Heartbeat). In a dramatic climax, the fate of Tommy Wheeler – Karen’s missing friend – is revealed, Jean and Haley make a bold decision regarding their futures (Prototype [Reprise]), and tragedy strikes Plainview High. In the aftermath, the students learn that they don’t always have to keep it together. There’s often “a new life in store for those who let go” (Onward).
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