Here, as promised, is the winner in the inaugural Student Critic Metro Award. Entries in this category were judged on their ability to capture the mood of the trip to the theater, to provide context, background and historical setting, to give a synopsis and evaluate the show’s technical elements. Judges also wanted to hear a writer’s voice and perspective. Grammar, style and flair were also considered. Two votes separated the top two nominees in an incredibly tight race. The Metro was awarded to Pleasantville’s Katie Bartz, pictured at right after The Metros with her mom.
Loserville, it’s not just for nerds!
By Katie Bartz
Pleasantville High School
I took a trip back in time to when bell-bottoms were in style, discos were “far out,” and Star Wars was only an idea. Ossining High School’s performance of “Loserville” was a blast from the past! Once the house lights went down in the crowded auditorium, I found myself suddenly surrounded by the psychedelic colors and pop-punk music that only the 1970s could offer.
“Loserville” – a musical by Elliot Davis and James Bourne about computer geeks and comic book nerds inventing the future and discovering girls – had its high school debut in New York’s very own Ossining High School.
The protagonist is 17-year-old Michael Dork (Marcus Roman), a computer geek who is flanked by the creative dweeb Lucas Lloyd (Eli Hersh), the self-titled “girl-guru” Frances Weir (Miguel Angel Garcia), and the super-trekkie Marvin Camden (Will Gillman). Michael dreams of creating a system that enables computers to converse whereas Lucas wants to finish his sci-fi novel with the working title of “Galaxy Battles,” a war between good and evil set in the stars! Sound familiar?
Then enters Holly (Claudia Tesoro), the new geek – er, I mean girl – in school who just wants to be the first woman in space. Soon after her arrival, she befriends Michael and promises to help him generate his dream. However, things go awry when Eddie (Jonathan Dfouni) blackmails Holly into helping him steal Michael’s idea so that he can cheat his way to the top.
The set is relatively simplistic, but with a cast as large and energetic as this one, too much of a set would have only gotten in the way. Instead, a screen and projector are used throughout the performance to depict settings such as a high school, a corporate building, and a space museum. Now and again, the screen displays “groovy” graphics or computer codes and mathematical equations that I could never solve. The use of sound effects and flashing red lights in the house is very effective in stimulating a “code red.” It makes the audience feel as if they are a part of the show and experiencing the same excitement and adrenaline that the protagonist is feeling.
Miguel Angel Garcia gives the part of Francis Weir more characteristic quirks than the number of Cub Scout badges sewn onto his vest. This character is the spitting image of a high school nerd and every little detail Garcia incorporates into the character makes me love him even more! His voice is especially nasally and he jounces around stage with his knees pointed inward and his shoulders curling forward. These small details tell me more about this character than any of his lines. It may be true that he isn’t Fred Flintstone, but he certainly “rocks” the role of Francis Weir.
Jonathan Dfouni steps into the antagonistic track suit of Eddie Arch, the wealthy high school jock. He is the epitome of arrogance, superficiality, selfishness, and idiocy, yet I just can’t hate him. Dfouni puts this jerk-of-a-jock under a comedic limelight that has me laughing every time he struts on stage. Dfouni’s combination of exaggerated pronunciation, humorous facial expressions, and dramatic strides has me laughing until my sides hurt.
What’s a jock without his malicious cheerleader girlfriend? Daniela Rodrigues is armed with pom-poms and an attitude when she takes on the role of Eddie’s girlfriend, Leia Dawkins. She is cruel to her friends, vicious to the geeks, and overbearing of her boyfriend, who has an agenda that does not align with hers. Ms. Rodrigues plays the part so well that I can feel the hatred for her character bubbling up inside me. When an actress playing an antagonist elicits hate from her audience members, she is playing her character right. And not only that, she has a powerful singing voice that blends beautifully with Dfouni’s and Tesoro’s.
You don’t need “brains and looks” to see that Ossining High School’s production of “Loserville” is a fun jump back in time. The boogying cast earns an A+ for enthusiasm, which was certainly what earned these young actors their standing ovation.