The Senior Superlative Musical… By Isa Goldberg
Just when every girl in high school is yearning to be Lea Michele and every boy, Jonathan Groff, the teen idols of Television’s “Glee,” “Most Likely To: The Senior Superlative Musical” comes strutting down the corridor. The show, at Greenwich Village’s Players Theatre, stars real teenagers from Syosset’s Long Island High School for the Arts in a musical spoof that covers the playing field, mostly high school musicals and reality TV shows with a tad of the Olsen Twins and Harry Potter thrown in for good measure.
It’s formulaic, but as escapist entertainment it’s more than you bargained for, beginning with the title song “Most Likely to Survive,” a ballad in the style of “Spring Awakening.” True to the formula of “Most Likely To,” the songs are blatantly derivative, including an ear-piercing “Scream Girlz” which doesn’t do the original material or the singers here any justice. Other songs like “The Hero of Guitar” and “O.C.D. Over U” come across with aplomb. In fact, it’s the kids with their bold, endearing voices who sustain the show. True to genre, the songs are performed in real time. (No one ever bursts into song.)
The characters play on predictable high school archetypes: school clown (Andrew J. Beck), fat girl (Katie Hoffmann), the queer boy played by Christopher Hlinka (is he really gay?), and best looking, Lyle Colby Mackston. He’s no runner up.
Even the most repulsive stereotypes develop a tad of depth as the actors carry them through different scenes. At times the material falls flat, at others it feels punishing — just like high school, but the kids are the perfect penicillin.
In one of the best scenes, a Disney take off called “Finding Emo,” the Goth Kids (Alexander Greif and Jesse Zeidman), “dressed in vintage shock,” tease us about me-isms, “Emo Spelled Backwards is Oh Me.” However inadvertently their lyrics describe the show, “Music is lame. Melodies will drive you insane.” In a similar vein, Mackston’s “The Best Years of My Life” leads to the self-imploding myth of youth.
The show, also inspired by musings of students at Long Island High School for the Arts is helmed by two of their teachers. Director Abbie Gail Gross finds a sensitive core within each of the actors and keeps it under wraps, making this a fun show to watch. At moments it’s even touching.
Capturing the spirit of the times, “Most Likely To” is an awards show. This time it’s creator Michael Tester (“The Awesome ‘80s Prom”) gets one. It’s the Awkward Turkey Award.
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