Show Choir: The Musical
Book, Music and Lyrics by Mark McDaniels and Donald Garverick
Directed by Gary Slavin
BOTTOM LINE: Show Choir is a fun and pazzaz-y musical with a huge cast of talented performers. It travels over some familiar territory (thanks to a certain TV show), but still manages to please.
Show Choir! The Musical
, in a limited run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, is a playful look at a glee club gone wrong. Framed as a television news expose, Show Choir
chronicles the rise and fall of a driven high school choir director, Jake Jonathan, who has a penchant for pas de bourres and a passion for the spotlight, as he leads his cadre of singing, dancing proteges out of high school and into the national arena. He is flanked on one side by his talented but mousy music director and a soulful jazz music college mentor on the other. These two act as Jonathan’s conscience, but they cannot curtail his bloodthirst for fame and fortune, as he lives vicariously through his teeny-bopper troupe, the Symphonic Sensations. The kids succumb inevitably to drugs, sex and papparazzi while friendships and careers go awry for the adults. Luckily, it all turns out for the best in the end, as the cheerful and wholesome spirit of show choir prevails.
The show is jam-packed with musical numbers, twenty-one in all, several of which include complex full-company choreography. Although some of the music and lyrics, written by Mark McDaniels and Donald Garverick, rely on hackneyed muscial theater tropes, several of the songs are real winners. I woke up a day or two after the show humming “Back Row” and wondering where I had heard it. “Jake’s Soliloquy,” as interpreted by Mick Bonde, is lovely. The entire cast works hard to produce a very polished show; the maximum rehearsal time is four weeks for all pieces in the festival. Director Gary Slavin, who has worked on several prior productions of the play, is clearly a well-practiced hand at making musical theatre.
The only problem with this show is another show, Glee, the television hit on Fox. Unfortunately, Glee has stolen the thunder from anyone else who tries to satirize this subject. Show Choir
apparently got there first, and it is unfortunate that their material now seems less fresh, but high school is high school, and show choir is show choir, and there is only so much ground to cover. I still recommend this show for anyone who can’t get enough of Glee and the high school satire genre, or anyone who just loves a good song and dance number with lots of sequins to jazz things up.
(Show Choir! The Musical
, plays as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival at ATA Chrenuchin Theatre, 314 West 54th Street. Remaining show is October 11th at 5pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at nymf.org
. For more information visit nyfm.org
or call 212.664.0979.)