Friday, September 25, 2015

School Play "Superheroes" by Ian McWethy
Big on Ha and Aww

[Photo:  Sixth and Seventh Grade actors pose before rehearsal]

Faster than an hour, more roles for actors than a musical, able to make the audience laugh without a single joke:  It's a play!  It's sketch comedy!  It's Superheroes by Ian McWethy.

The laughs came from seeing familiar comic book heroes in their everyday lives.  "What's boring for you," explains the Avengers' Hawkeye to his audience, "to us is really, really boring." There's Batman collecting Bruce Wayne's laundry; Wonder Woman applying for a job with the Avengers; Hulk getting tax advice; Spider-man signing autographs for a fee to pay off credit card debt.

The surprise for me was how often the young actors in these roles elicited sympathy.  Hapless Aquaman, unable to stop a purse-snatcher on land, tries to cheer himself up: "[I found] a Sacajawea quarter: It's a pretty good day for Aquaman!"  Hulk softens when his tax advisor Mia expresses disappointment that he has destroyed his W-2s:  "Hulk respect Mia;  Hulk get Quick Books."  Storm of the X-men tries to get Wolverine fans to appreciate the real heroes in our lives.  Robin speaks from the heart to a sidekick support group:  "When I hang up those tights ... I can be my own superhero."  The audience's heart went out to Aqualad when he confesses:  "There's nothing more depressing than being Aquaman's sidekick. Nothing."

While superheroes are the celebrities in the world of McWethy's play, it's all the everyday people who get the plum parts.  Besides the Hulk's Mia, there's the HR officer who has to break the news to Clark Kent that his glasses aren't fooling anybody.  The audience loved the fast food server scolded by The Batman for omitting the fries from an order.  Spiderman's biggest fan has exposed himself to spider bites four times: "I went to the hospital. I got free ice cream, but no super powers."  Courteous Yorma in the Avengers' front office has to break the news to Green Lantern that his Achilles' heel is a deal - breaker, as "yellow is a primary color."

We had no auditions: kids simply signed up for the part(s) they wanted, the days they wanted to rehearse, and the actors they'd like to work with.  Everyone got something they wanted in at least one of these categories, and it ended up just right.


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