Newtown’s Town Players invoke high school nostalgia with new musical
Town Players, Newtown: The Town Players of Newtown have not produced a musical in many years. They opted to remedy this by staging “Is There Life After High School?” inspired by Ralph Keye’s book of the same name. Jeffrey Kindley and Craig Carnelia adapted it for the stage. It’s a cute little musical that does bring back thoughts of those teen years. It doesn’t have the substance of other plays catering to the high school years, but it works when it comes to pushing the memory button. During intermission, audience members were sharing their own high school memories, which show that the play works in this respect. It all comes down to it doesn’t matter what school you went to or what year you graduated. Some things never change. There’s always a star athlete, the perky cheerleader, as well as the nerd, the shy one and the bully. In other words, there are always winners and losers, the in clique and the outsiders. There are also moments, bad or good, that you will never forget from those high school years. That’s what this musical is all about.
This is actually a revue, though director Brian DeToma described it as a “memory musical” during his pre-curtain speech. Most of the characters are stereotypical, remembering the past, and illustrate how completely different they are now as adults in the present. One especially fine number is “I’m Glad You Didn’t Know Me,” which is a song a woman sings to her husband, believing had he known her in high school, he never would have dated her let alone married her.
The pretty perky cheerleader resents the snide remarks people associate with cheerleaders. Now she’s a professor and proud of it. Another character has become a doctor. All of the reminiscing leads to the big class reunion, which isn’t so big here.
The cast is a mixed bag of talents. Some vocals are pretty good and some are fair. The harmonies seem to be the most difficult for this community theater cast. Zachary Theis and Mike Armstrong deliver the strongest vocals and their individual times in the spotlight work well. Nicole Veach stepped in as a substitute and did a fine job acting, especially in her spotlight scene as Homecoming Queen. Others in the opening night cast include: Stephanie Rosenberg, Amy Strachan, Steven Schmidt, Emily Volpintesta and Joshua Adelson.
Noelle Veillette is the music director and accompanist. The creative crew did not list a choreographer, though there is one scene in which the cast performs as a marching band and does a great job synchronizing their strategic patterns. Other than that, most of the action was not blocked well and at times seemed to have characters moving around in circles or back and forth for no reason whatsoever.
There was also no one named as costume designer, which might explain the nondescript and less than complimentary outfits these actors wore. Nick Kaye’s set design rings true to a typical high school gymnasium with trophies on the shelves and mandatory bleachers. Opening night had some lighting problems, which will hopefully be ironed out by the time you read this review. The production plays through Oct. 19. Box office: 203- 270-9144.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.