Courtney Love, the onetime front woman of the grunge-rock group Hole, widow of Kurt Cobain and she of the often tattered image, is still pushing boundaries. This time though, they’re all her own. 

Love, new to musical theater, is starring in "Kansas City Choir Boy" at the American Repertory Theater. Billed as a "theatricalized concept album" by composer Todd Almond, the show is a series of glimpses into a doomed relationship. We find two souls once ferociously in love, now just as far apart as can be.

"They are Midwestern cool kids," Almond said. "We catch them from their first sexual encounter and through their marriage."

But the couple falls victim to the frailty of youth. Almond’s unnamed character is content to live out life sitting in front of the television in their Kansas City home. But his wife, a singer named Athena, played by Love, is unfulfilled. Seduced by the allure and promise of New York City, she leaves him. In some respects, this is Love’s story.

She landed as far away from a quiet upbringing in Oregon as one can get—rampaging from the concert stage into drug addiction and tabloid meltdowns. But at the same time cementing a successful recording and film career. Theater has been her one unsatisfied dream.

"I once tried out for The Mickey Mouse Club," she said. "I didn’t get an agent when I was kid, but I was in a lot of productions at Portland Civic Theatre."

Fast forward some 40 years later, and Almond has scored his dream partner. "Kansas City Choir Boy," he said, evolved and became electric with Love.

"Courtney comes in with all sorts of artistic ammunition, and of course, you want to embrace that in theater," Almond said. "So a lot of the music, we rethought and tailored to Courtney’s power, you know? And so that was a huge gift to the piece."

For the show’s New York run, critics marveled at the pair’s chemistry. Love does, too.

"Well, he’s my rock," she said. "If I’m a little tired, or if I’m like, we’ve done this before, I can always look in his eyes and find some more excitement in there and some more challenge."

When they do perform, her voice is raw and soulful, and Almond’s lyrics, poetic.

"I get to do this wonderful music every night, which is great," Love said. "It was hard to learn because it was not four-to-the-floor rock and roll. It’s, like, sophisticated, and there’s strings and pauses and things I normally wouldn’t do. It’s second nature now."

"Kansas City Choir Boy" plays at the A.R.T.’s Oberon space through Oct. 10.