Broken A Musical as reviewed by The Phantom TollboothTween pop stars try their hands on the stage, to good effect.

Broken:A Musical  DVD
Levity Records

As less tween pop made by Christian-identified acts gets into Radio Disney rotation and some of the acts who did identify themselves as believers show that they want to shed their moral sound and target demographic-marketed personae for more worldly adulthood, my use for the genre has diminished considerably. Heck, I didn't even request a promotional copy of the last Miley Cyrus album. Can't Be Tamed? More like Can't Be Shamed! Yet, anyway...

Callann Lane, who started her career in primarily Christian market tween pop by going only by her not very abundant first name, looks to want to extend her musical shelf life in a Godly manner. Gal has taken some initiative in that direction by developing the stage production Broken:A Musical.  Based on a previously produced play Lane happened upon in a teen mentoring program, it's already received numerous plays on TBN's youth-oriented  sister channel, JCTV .

And it's not an embarrassment. This story of a girl whose world is torn by divorce and shattered by giving into a pre-marital loss of virginity has parallels to Lane's own life, she has said. That's so much the case, apparently, that she goes by her given name as the story's central character. If you don't want to count Jesus Christ, that is, but don't let me get ahead of myself, eh?

Actually, from the onset, it's pretty clear that this is an evangelistic, if at least semi-autobiographical for Lane, tale, played out as a modern day morality play where the Lord and Satan vie for a girl's attention as she goes through the aforementioned troubles. Fellow cCm singers take the most talkative-and singing-roles, with Manic Drive's Shawn Cavallo portraying the horny-turned-callous boyfriend, solo male Nate Sallie (himself a short-lived object of Radio Disney attention several years ago if memory serves) filling Satan's shoes and Levity Records label mate Darrell Vanzant assaying the Second Person of the Godhead, also acting as narrator.

Since this isn't Oh Calcutta! nor Hair, the fornication addressed in the plot is given symbolic representation. And if strange, it's effective. In the openning scene, where Mom breaks it to young Callann that both of her parents aren't going to be living in the same house for long, she's holding an orange.  The devil enters shortly thereafter to arm her with "toys" including a twig of bitterness and long spikes to represent jealousy, rage Old Scratch tells her she won't have use for the third one for a while, but when she does, boyfriend Mike skewers her now partially peeled citrus fruit with that long metallic rod, forcing out some of he juice and pulp in the process.

Could you figure out that Jesus gives her a new fruit when she finally converts? Mike doesn't make that turn toward righteousness, instead sticking with Lucifer's plan for him to become a drunken, drug-addled, libidinally licentious rock star. We never see the lad pick up an instrument, so "rock star" in this instance might not be necessarily the musical manifestation the term originally denoted. Needles to say, kid looks to be going to hell.

Speaking of eternal  destinations for the characters at hand and what leads them to one or the other, Jesus tells Mike He's there to help in strength of character and developing healthy relationships. None of that sounds quite like being free from sin and right wth God, so here's hoping the additional youth curriculum at least deepens the doctrinal truth Broken addresses some. In the scene where Christ finally gives Callann that fresh Sunkist, He tells her she has made mistakes;that comes some closer to biblical language, I suppose. If the play's primary audience is those who aren't yet Christian, the softer language may make more sense.

If the above seems memorable and effective, it is, certainly to the extent that plays staged sans audiences aren't very common in the general nor Christian market anyway. The songs? There's some appropriation of '80s new waveyness and stand issue cCm power balladry, among a few other flavors, but little of it comes near showtune standard territory where one's likely to be singing it  on the way out of the theater. Need it be said that everyone's performing to tracks and not an orchestra pit? I didn't think so, but it's all good per staging purposes.

Broken, however, mostly succeeds at its modest goals. Perhaps more than merely a piece for church youth groups' viewing, this could even better serve as a template for them to stage their own production for the benefit of their peers.