KDL’s A Musical a trip of the best kind
King David Linksfield’s A Musical was a trip down memory lane through school stories and musical theatre classics.
The show, performed from 12 to 14 March, featured an original script crafted around everyone’s favourite Broadway songs. It painted a picture of students past and present in order to commemorate 75 years of King David schools.
Directed and produced by Owen Lonzar, Sharon Spiegel-Wagner, and Meryl Malkin, featuring a group of King David alumni and a large ensemble of students, and assisted by the student sound and lighting team, this memorable tribute was truly a team effort.
The show begins with six high school students in detention, a la The Breakfast Club. The audience is introduced to Maddie, the popular girl (played by Layla Kayle); Rachel, the goth girl (Leah Kerr-Phillips); Sarah, the introvert (Ariella Gnesin); Jodan, the “indie” rockstar (Jaxon Cohen); Ryan, the geek (Ben Ginsburg); and Troy, the jock (Ashton Mervis). The supervising teacher (Gary Allen) falls asleep, and the group starts to quarrel and interrogate one another. Suddenly, music starts to play and an ensemble of dancers appears on stage. They go on to perform a witty rendition of Cell Block Tango from Chicago explaining why each student is serving time in detention. Changes to the original song such as replacing the “uh uh” with “oy vey” kept the audience amused.
From then on, the Broadway hits keep coming. A mysterious box calls out to them with the song There’s a Light from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The box is full of old yearbooks and documents from past students and teachers. The ensemble joins the students for a Time Warp through the school’s history. The students discuss the importance of looking back at the past and how to move forward into the future, followed by a rendition of Seize the Day from Newsies.
High-spirited performances of Aquarius from the musical Hair (Tali Rome), and Welcome to Nowhere from The Band’s Visit (Arianne Kirkel) not only highlighted comical anecdotes from the documents but also felt like whole productions within themselves. The dramatic, colourful lighting created a magical atmosphere that distinguished the musical numbers from the rest of the narrative. Other blasts from the past included a snippet of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun featuring a group of girls from the 80s going outside to smoke (receiving strange looks from the group of modern-day students for smoking rather than vaping).
The set was kept relatively simple, featuring a few desks and boxes, allowing the talented students to hold the audience’s attention. Costumes were also minimal, allowing for quick changes between the world of various musicals. The primary cast wore school uniforms, while the ensemble wore black or white outfits with one or two easily identifiable costume pieces per character/scene they were playing.
The exuberant, elaborately choreographed pieces were interspersed with more intimate moments, such as an acoustic performance of Shallow from A Star is Born and a romantic rendition of Hopelessly Devoted To You from Grease (Demi Cohen).
The show also featured a variety of interesting mash-ups of well-known numbers. The progression of Popular from Wicked into Omigod You Guys from Legally Blonde, featuring JennaBabes (alumnus Jenna Berkowitz) showed the transformation of the alternative goth girl into the “perfect kugel”. Waving Through a Window and You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen (featuring Gia Salkow) highlighted the importance of mental health and feeling heard. And the mash-up of Memory (Cats) and I See the Light (Tangled), juxtaposed the feelings of loss and hope in two of the students.
The group numbers were undoubtedly a highlight of the evening, particularly, A Musical from Something Rotten as the show stopping finale of Act 1, led by alumnus Adam Pelkowitz and Peter Szewach, and Revolting Children, featuring the stand-out vocals of Luke Mostert and lively ensemble choreography. The choreography was well executed and the vocal arrangements allowed the talent of the entire group to shine. The heartwarming performance Seasons of Love, featuring alumni Eitan Malkin and Gary Allen, and the upbeat finale of You Can’t Stop the Beat (Hairspray), left the audience feeling elated and hopeful.
This show was geared towards parents, students, and alumni of the school, with stories and inside jokes that resonated with the intended audience. That being said, its wonderful celebration of various musicals as well as its commentary on current issues in our schools made this production one that every audience member could enjoy.