If you have ever suffered through an interminably bad recital or talent show, you may be a little nervous about attending Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite. But go anyway. The show is a nice comic vehicle for two former Wesleyan University students (who look much younger) and one of the better comic offerings of The Capital Fringe Festival.
Jo Firestone and Dylan Marron play enough adult and adolescent characters to stock two John Hughes’ movies. Among the educational archetypes are the uptight assistant principal, the local restaurateur/sponsor, the pretentious student council president, the amateur magician, the Goth girl who reads poetry, the ventriloquist, the nervous girl who plays the recorder, and the unfortunate janitor.
The two writer-performers have a nice ability to mine the awkwardness, the juvenile humor, and the rebellion of middle school students. Firestone has an expressive face that can draw laughs without needing dialogue (her stage-frightened girl is classic) and her characterizations are particularly sharp. Marron is an outgoing performer with a flamboyant manner.
Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite is not afraid to pursue any source of comedy, from the clever to the gross. A few of the sketches are milked a little too much (the lame young comedian really is lame), but the two are confident performers who are good at audience interplay (if you don’t want to get involved in the show, stay out of the front rows!). While it may not be quite as inspired as similar shows like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, it is good fun.
Many campy shows get a little old as they go on, but Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite has an endearing goofiness that only builds as the show proceeds. As the student performers get more out of hand, the assistant principal evolves from “This is a school full of winners” to “I apologize for the behavior of your students!” As far as the laughing audience is concerned, no apologies are needed.
Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite
Running time: 50 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?