iSchool Musical is the latest hilarious brainchild of the Washington Improv Theater’s iMusical, The Improvised Musical. Inspired by the overwhelming popularity of Fox’s “Glee”, iMusical decided to develop its own “high school musical” format and created iSchool Musical for the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival.
If you have never seen an iMusical and are wondering what an improvised musical is all about, basically it is where the cast and their accompanist/director, Travis Ploeger, create all the music, lyrics and dialogue for each funny scene off the top of their heads using various improvisational techniques. This makes each show completely unique and hilarious.
In order for the cast, which last night consisted of Matt Berman, Mark Chalfant, David Litt, Richie Pepio, Natalie Pyle, Greer Smith, and Letty Tomlinson, to get into the high school frame of mind, the audience is asked to fill out suggestion slips before the show begins. Four vitally important questions are asked: 1) what was the actual name of your high school, 2) what was your high school mascot, 3) I wish our yearbook would have shown us who was “most likely to,” and 4) where did your senior class go on a field trip (or where should they have gone). The cast then chooses a few slips randomly as the show begins to determine which high school the scene will involve and where the scene will take place.
Last night, which also celebrated the 100th iMusical performance, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ”) of Alexandria, VA was the high school randomly selected, much to the delight of the DC audience, and the opera Carmen was the senior class trip that designated where the first scene started. As the show began, the cast immediately broke into hilarious student characters: a dorky kid whose father is obsessed with him learning about rockets, a girl who plays the flute, is not sure she wants to go to college and is obsessed with an opera star from Carmen and his collection of trolls, a kid who is very concerned that he will only get into his safety school for college (which we learn has not happened at TJ in over a decade), and a girl who is trying to help her friend join the secret, underground TJ theater club. The musical quickly evolved through various scenes, including at the Opera House, in a sausage factory, and by a pool in Florida, as the cast broke into spontaneous and funny songs like “Love is Like a Troll,” and “I am Not Your Pinnochio.” Of course, your show will be completely different.
The cast members, though extremely funny, are not blessed with particularly good singing voices but that is not what the show is really all about (unlike in “Glee”). iSchool Musical is not Broadway so do not expect to hear amazing vocal chops. But what you will see is the extraordinary ability of each cast member to sing various funny songs and speak dialogue while they are still making it up in their heads. Special recognition also needs to be given to the show’s director and accompanist, Travis Ploeger. Ploeger is clearly a talented pianist, who constantly laughs out loud when the cast members say memorable lines like “You’re not on the flautist track.” His creations at the keyboard set the stage for the cast to create their musical hilarity.
The cast members have great comedic timing, are funny and genuinely seem to be having a good time together. This is a show that anyone will enjoy and find something (if not everything) to laugh at. Even if you are not a Gleek (i.e. fan of “Glee”), you will laugh at this show. Buying tickets to iSchool Musical is a no-brainer.
Directed by Travis Ploeger
Produced by Washington Improv Theater
Reviewed by Sabrina C. Daly
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?