It's always a bit difficult switching gears and working with younger talent, but The Off Broadway Theatre pulls it off pretty well in Gleek School Musical.
The mixed parody of High School Musical and Glee is really about a high school's basketball team and glee club switching roles to outdo one another, but it's all orchestrated by the evil Sylvia Sylvester (Jillene Stark), who wants to turn the school into a mall. How is she going to do that? Still not sure, but she gets the cheerleaders on her side.
The nice thing about the plot is it's easy to insert different characters and themes as both Glee and High School Musical start to lose luster. Gleek is written and directed by Eric Jensen.
What I didn't like about the show...
But one problem I do have with this plot is all of the characters it introduces. With love stories going on in essentially two different groups of actors—the basketball team and the glee club usually appear in separate scenes, creating two story lines—it was hard to keep track or really care much about the romance and character development.
And some of the actors' lack of experience comes across, with low talkers and clear mess ups in the script, but then again, one reason to go to OBT is for those fun improvisations when someone messes up. Some of these young actors must have been getting improv lessons from Eric Jensen, who's also in Laughing Stock.
And as for what I loved about the show...
The play features a bunch of OBT vets, including Jensen, Ian Murray (Janitor Jim) and Jillene Stark—all of whom get the crowd laughing throughout. The show also has some powerful singers, including young Flynn (Cooper Maestas), Breaunna (Kimberly Lochner) and others.
The non-profit theater doesn't have the liberty to spend much on props. And this can actually be a good thing for this type of production—case in point, the Mufasa-esque Karl Malone descending from the clouds to give basketball guidance and the character Raquel's elaborate trick shots full of sound effects and basketballs on strings.
I recommend seeing this one for the singing and improvisation and hilariously-cheesy props. If you want a plot that makes more sense, along with the amazing comedy the theater is known for, you might have to wait for The Adventures of Sheer-Luck Homes & Snotson on March 30.
Gleek runs through March 10 on Monday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Click here for tickets.
And whatever you do, don't take your shoes off in front of those cheerleaders—catch the play to find out why.
Look for a profile story on The Off Broadway Theatre's president and artistic director Eric Jensen in our May issue.
Check out how the theater decorated their lobby for the production. Really does look like high school.