I think I would have liked this show 20 or 30 years ago. When I was closer to high school. This just made me feel old.
Look, every sitcom in history that’s had anything to do with a high school or high school aged students, from Head of the Class to The Brady Bunch, has at one point or another done a Romeo and Juliet episode. But not too many attempt to pull off a rock musical version. Not only that, they had alumni from High School Musical and Glee helping out (including Corbin Bleu as Mercutio). So I wanted to have high hopes.
As always, and I think seriously this has become my trademark, my review is this: “Needs more Shakespeare.”
I don’t know the show, or the characters, or their arcs. So I’m sure that I missed the lion’s share of the significance of what else was going on, who kissed who, who used to be a couple but broke up and are now on stage together. But you know what? This is where I feel old. Because I didn’t care. I just wanted to hear the text.
It started out well, singing the prologue to piano accompaniment. The song itself wasn’t that good, but I applaud the effort. But just about all the other songs had little to no text in them, and instead were focused on this theme of being “unbreakable” and/or “unstoppable”, whatever significance that is supposed to have, and also how “love will light the way.” There’s a token reference to jesting at scars that never felt a wound, which is a repeated lyric in one of the songs, but out of context it’s just kind of hanging there.
Meanwhile there’s a whole other story arc going on that just reminded me that these people are closer to my kids’ age than my own. Example? Ok, picture this. Set against the backdrop of SHAKESPEARE, here’s some actual dialogue:
“I’m still in love with you!”
“Then why didn’t you answer my note?”
“I left a note in your backpack.”
“I never got it. What did it say?”
“That I’m in love with you too.”
Whoa. I’ve got to sit down for a minute. For a brief minute there I got a kick out of the parallel of an important letter gone unread, but I couldn’t get over the overly dramatic dialogue over something so childish. But then I suppose if I’d let my kids watch this show they would have thought it’s the greatest thing in the world.
Oh, well. I’ll still probably try to download some of the songs again to see if full versions are available, and if they do more justice to the text than I first noticed. But I’m pretty sure it’s not going to knock off Hamilton anytime soon.