SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: ‘HOME STREET HOME’ REVIEW

Street kids turning tricks, shooting heroin, shoplifting, cutting themselves and fleeing their abusive pasts might not sound like everyone’s idea of subject material for a family musical. But that, along with lots of BDSM, is the raw material in “Home Street Home,” a promising but still sketchy rock musical that’s testing its legs for the first time in a fully staged production at Z Space.

Riding the strength of a strongly melodic and often nimbly devised score, the show has genuine promise. As one earnest solo confession after another builds into a stage-filling, multivoiced ensemble, “Home” wears its big, pounding heart on its sleeve. The gritty R-rated lyrics and simulated sex scenes are put in the service of “Home’s” essentially old-fashioned message about the importance of finding your own family and standing up for who you truly are.

 The excellent second-act power ballad “Because I Want To,” sung with body-shaking conviction by Justine Magnusson as a runaway who was repeatedly raped by her father, could serve as the show’s anthem. It’s both a defiant vow of personal liberation and a youthful cri de coeur.
Co-creators Fat Mike (Michael John Burkett of the punk band NOFX), the “Dominant, fetish movie star” Goddess Soma and lyricist Jeff Marx (of “Avenue Q”) make no secret of their debt to “Rent” and such rock-driven successors as “American Idiot” and “Spring Awakening.” An early line in the show makes the connection explicit. The chain-link fences of Caite Hevner Kemp’s rickety, “Rent”-like scaffold set swing open to reveal the interior of the Slut Hut, the urban squat where much of the action takes place.

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