When a show starts off with an hilarious “turn off your cell phones” announcement, you know you’re in for a treat. Modeled after “The Breakfast Club,” the play is about six students reluctantly reporting to the library for detention monitored by Mr. Sopperstein, a substitute teacher played with Christopher Lloyd wackiness by Mark Kaplan. The diverse group of detainees includes Howie (Nate Lewellyn), the new kid who can’t seem to fit in; Jackson (the always superb Adrian Agular), a thickheaded jock who survives by bullying; Ari (played with heart by by Alex Goodrich), the class clown wannabe; Savannah (a delightful Tiffany Topol), who, like “Wicked”’s Galinda, is obsessed with popularity and the color pink; Ripley (understudy Devon Candura), the friendless overachiever with high grades; and Daisy (multitalented Andrea Prestinario), the tough, Goth girl ready for a fight. With their teacher’s assistance the kids turn detention into a multileveled learning experience.
Inspired by Aesop’s Fables, Sopperstein encourages his students to improvise modern musical versions of such stories as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “Androcles and the Lion,” turning them into meaningful life lessons about friendship and caring. One inventive improvisation transforms the race between “The Hare and the Tortoise” into two students running for class president.
Much of the credit for this production goes to Michael Mahler’s and Alan Schmuckler’s clever script and score for young audiences. It’s a show that not only entertains, but introduces youngsters to classic literature while also teaching them valuable lessons about growing up. Dominic Missimi and Ericka Mac have staged and choreographed this in-the-round production with wit and sass. Peopled with familiar characters, a catchy score and spirited choreography, this production easily wins the race