Fans of “The O.C.” were welcomed back to the dark side for a one night trip down memory lane on Aug. 30, as Sucker Love Productions and Original Penguin presented “The Unauthorized O.C. Musical” to a sold-out house at the Montalban Theater in Hollywood. Lindsey Rosin and Jordan Ross — the team behind “The Unauthorized Musical Parody of Cruel Intentions” — were the brains behind the event.
Twelve years after the show premiered, “O.C.” creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage were on hand to revisit Newport Beach, along with original cast members Rachel Bilson (Summer Roberts), Melinda Clarke (Julie Cooper) and Kelly Rowan (Kirsten Cohen). Fellow alum Autumn Reeser (Taylor Townsend) participated in the musical, taking over Clarke’s role and subsequently earning some of the biggest cheers of the night from the assembled “O.C.” faithful.
In addition to Reeser, the musical’s cast included Tilky Jones (Ryan Atwood), Molly McCook (Marissa Cooper), Brendan Robinson (Seth Cohen), Greer Grammer (Summer Roberts), Drew Seeley (Luke Ward), Betty Who (Holly Fischer), Christine Lakin (Kirsten Cohen), Neil Hopkins (Sandy Cohen) and Jarett Wieselman (Josh Schwartz).
The staging arranged the cast in a line as they performed a beefed-up adaptation of the original pilot script, punctuated by iconic songs and memorable scenes from throughout the Fox show’s four-season run, allowing the actors to emerge from behind their music stands to perform fan-favorite moments like Seth and Summer’s Spider-Man kiss from “Rainy Day Woman” set to “Champagne Supernova,” and Ryan and Marissa choosing “Forever Young” as their song (and subsequently breaking up to it).
Other musical highlights included an opening number that saw the cast re-create the season two finale scene in which Marissa saved Ryan from a brutal beatdown by shooting Trey, with Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” providing a wry punctuation to the shocking moment, and a group performance of “Hallelujah” in tribute to the season-one finale’s closing montage. A rendition of Phantom Planet’s iconic theme song “California” predictably raised the roof, as did two duets between Sandy and Kirsten: “Paint the Silence” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.” McCook and Jones oozed chemistry as they crooned Aqualung’s “Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You)” at various points throughout the show, and Who provided a haunting epilogue by putting her own spin on Patrick Park’s “Life Is a Song” from the series finale.
The evening ended with a tongue-in-cheek “Next time on ‘The O.C.'” stinger that allowed the cast to revisit some of the series’ most memorable lines, enabling Reeser to reprise her role as Taylor one more time. Following the performance, the cast, creative team and guests filtered down the block to Hollywood watering hole “Wood & Vine” to celebrate the evening.
Listen to the cast recording of “California” below.