The fact that the new musical “The UPSIDE of Being DOWN” even exists means that the show’s creator believes in the truth of its title. Everybody has flaws and difficult experiences. It’s what one does with them that makes people unique.
Miles Burns, a 26-year-old Southern New Hampshire resident and former University of New Hampshire student, wrote the music, lyrics and book to “The UPSIDE of Being DOWN,” a show for all ages that will be staged at The Player’s Ring, a unique theater in the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth, N.H.
The show grew out of the playwright’s own life, from its premise to its creation and journey to the stage.
Burns was a counselor at Seacoast Repertory Theater’s PAPA Camp — a youth summer program in Portsmouth, when he witnessed and was awed by young peoples’ resilience. They can be pushed down and get right back up, he says.
He looked around and understood that very much like himself, everyone has a story that includes rough times and, quite often, the feeling of being an outcast. For young thespians, the latter can be especially true, he knew.
“Theater camp is a place where the kids can go every year and where they feel okay about being themselves,” Burns says. “That’s what’s beautiful about it. People can grow and learn how to communicate with each other.”
He recalls a time when a camper sat at the piano in front of others. “She messed up,” he says. She was embarrassed but came back the next day and played the piece perfectly.
“I was thinking of that,” he explains of his inspiration. “Little moments of discovery.” So he wrote a single tune, “The Friendship Song.” Then more songs began coming, each based on something he witnessed at camp.