Brandon Walsh: “Why can’t we handle this like adults?”
Kelly Taylor: “No Brandon, we are going to handle this the 90210 way – by softly yelling over dramatic music.”
Broadway in Chicago presents: 90210: THE MUSICAL
From the creators of parodies like Full! House! The Musical! comes a whole new spin on the 90s cult classic, Beverly Hills: 90210. The musical will keep audiences laughing, and particularly for the fans of the show, the story hits on that nostalgia.
Written by Bob and Tobly McSmith and directed and choreographed by Donald Garverick, the musical follows Brenda and Brandon Walsh (Anua Marcu and Landon Zwick), twin siblings who just moved to Beverly Hills. From the second they enter their new high school, they are faced with all new challenges: How will they fit in with popular crowd? Can Brenda fight the allure of a romance with a mysterious bad boy? What will Brandon have to do to avoid the drama of high school? Will they witness Tori Spelling graduate?
Joining the twins on stage are other big names from the show including: Kelly Taylor (Alexis Kelley), David Silver (Rob Riordan), Tori Spelling (Caleb Dehne), Dylan McKay (Alan Trinca), and Steve Sanders (Seth Blum). A few of the actors even play multiple characters, bringing more familiar names into the mix.
Amusing Script and Compositions
This writer, who did not grow up on the show, found there were some moments that went a little over the head. However, the writers are clearly creative, and their witty script still made for a fun time. Bob and Tobly McSmith cleverly pokes fun at the awkward points of the series, from the unnecessarily high number of seasons, to Tori Spelling’s involvement in the show simply due to her father’s role as a producer. Like any successful parody, the writers planted these recognizable characters on stage and keep the jokes coming from start to finish.
Musical Composer Assaf Gleizner’s cheesy lyrics certainly enhance the humor. The show included “hits” ranging from “Will Tori Spelling Graduate?” to “We Are Drama Zombies.” The songs elicit outrageous laughter from the audience, especially when combined with Garverick’s hilarious 90s style group choreography.
Helmed by Gaverick, the design is simple, but contributes to the overall aesthetic of the parody. The lights come up on three sets of red lockers, which represent the high school. When a new location is needed, the actors would turn around a set of lockers to represent “The Peach Pit,” or the Walsh family home. The simple design further enhanced the comedy, providing an added element to the jokes. The actors controlling scene transitions helped keep the story in their hands, and allowed them to cover up minor mistakes in whichever way they saw fit.
The musical is clearly aware of itself, and much like the writers are making fun of Beverly Hills: 90210, the writers and actor poke fun at the musical itself.
One particularly memorable moment took place when preparing for the prom scene. Trinca tried hanging a handmade “PROM” sign, but failed to make the paper to stick. In the end, he simply threw it to the back, forcing Dehne to improvise when commenting on the “beautiful prom decorations.” We love every second, and the minor mistake suddenly becomes an essential part of the scene itself, helping the action weave into the overall parody.
Connecting with Chemistry
The ensemble is talented, and their musical abilities are certainly present. More than vocal talent, the ensemble as a whole showcases excellent stage chemistry, and this element ties everything together.
Standouts include Zwick, whose approach to Brandon is adorably sweet. Marcu’s rendition of rendition of “Dance the Night Away” is hilarious, along with the backup vocals from Kelley and Dahne. In this number, Marcu is playing the character of Emily Valentine, and offers the ultimatum to Brandon – he can have her, or no one. Her voice is lovely, and the comedic timing pushes the number over the top.
Trinca’s approach to the bad boy Dylan McKay is spot-on. Bob and Tobly embrace the cliché that bad boys are misunderstood, and throughout the musical, provide McKay moments to offer one-liners about his awful relationship with his father, and how that impacts him as a person. As McKay’s confessions became more extreme, our laughter only intensifies.
Nostalgic and fun, 90210: The Musical is a must-see for die-hard fans of the original TV series. For the more casual 90210 fan, there is also much to enjoy.
Through September 17, 2017
Wednesdays at 7:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 2:00pm
Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:00pm
Sundays at 7:30pm
Run Time: 2 hours, with intermission
Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
175 E. Chestnut St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Photos provided by 90210: THE MUSICAL
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.