Quince Orchard High School
Beloved characters from a superhero franchise get new ways to shine in a fresh and hilarious showcase of shenanigans. Lightridge High School's clever production of Marvel Spotlight Plays encompasses the idea that even superheroes are human.
Marvel Spotlight Plays was first introduced in 2019 at the International Thespian Festival. The plays were written for teenagers and feature two female leads, one of which is Pakistani. The show is split into three one-act plays and each play tells the story of a different superhero. In a modern spin on the traditional superhero ideals, two of the plays also center on strong feminism, creating a dynamic setting for teens to portray characters.
Altogether, the cast handled the refreshingly funny and hip play with notable expertise. However, there were undoubtedly a handful of standout performances from the large cast. Nakia Bahadir, played by Kenzy Ibrahim in the play Mirror of Most Value, played her character with a sense of playful electricity, intelligently highlighting her concern as a good friend without compromising Nakia's own aspirations.
In her play, Ibrahim shared the spotlight with Jones Parris, who played Bruno Carelli. Parris worked right beside Ibrahim and crafted a charming and grounded character, with mastery seldom seen in young actors. Parris' rock-solid line delivery provided an ideal balance to the lead of the play, Lily Selvaraj. Through Parris' remarkable performance, Bruno's thoughtful and considerate attributes showed through.
An exciting amount of talent filled all three plays, including Kat Bixler as Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl, who was a playful and endearing delight. Bixler took to the stage with a confident stride that transformed the room. Bixler's assured movements and intonation brought out Squirrel Girl's dynamic inner conflict while still allowing her to be fun-loving and relatable. Ultimately, Bixler created a compelling character arc that elicited copious amounts of applause from the audience. However, the highlight of her performance was the dance battle at the end, which provided the perfect avenue to showcase her spunky portrayal of the character.
Though each actor's contributions to this show were significant, Tayori Snipe as Thor/Jock in the play Hammered managed to vigorously distinguish himself from the rest of the cast. With a step full of swagger, Snipe strutted across the stage masterfully, capturing the burly essence and arrogance of Thor in one fell swoop. Snipe's performance was emotional when the story called for it, while also remaining humorous throughout. The comedic timing Snipe used was sublime, causing the audience to burst into laughter several times throughout the show. All in all, Snipe's portrayal of Thor stayed true to the canon established through movies while also remaining original.
While the actors took the spotlight, behind the scenes there was plenty of hard work that was invisible to the audience. One of the most distinctive features of Lightridge's show was the sound effects and music, which were done entirely by the students. The lead sound designer, Liam Gilmore, worked with his team (Jaden Barger and Lana Francisco) to compose the thrilling music that played throughout the show. Together, the team designed and produced the sound that truly made the show come together.
Charming and hysterical, Lightridge High School's production works as a reminder that theatre can and should be fun for everyone and that no one is too old for a dance battle. Regardless of whether or not someone is a fan of Marvel, they are sure to enjoy this lighthearted group of plays about beloved Marvel characters.
Heritage High School
Black and white comic strips and well-known characters were revitalized by a colorful cast of characters in Lightridge High School's Marvel Spotlight Productions.
First performed at the International Thespian Festival in 2019 and written in a collaboration between Samuel French of Concord Theatricals and Marvel entertainment, Marvel Spotlight Plays showcased three different stories of ordinary adolescents with extraordinary powers. The first story was that of Squirrel Girl in "Squirrel Girl Goes to College" by Karen Zacarias. It followed a college freshman with a secret identity as the crime fighting Squirrel Girl (Kat Bixler), who was tested when she faced both the hardships of keeping a secret identity from her new friends (Toni Ikhile, Jude Cabral) and the dangers of a supervillain computer, Modoc (Chloe Ebert). This tale was followed by that of Kamala Khan (Lily Selvaraj) in "Mirror of Most Value" by Masi Asare. Similarly to Squirrel Girl, Kamala must also navigate the waters of crime fighting with varied success and the horrors of high school: mean girls, former friends, and science fairs. Finally, in a chuckle worthy show, "Hammered" by Christian Borle explored the lesser told stories of Thor (Tayori Snipe) and his brother, Loki (Athan Agostinho).
In "Squirrel Girl Goes to College", Kat Bixler portrayed the titular role of Squirrel Girl. Displaying delightful exuberance and animated mannerisms, Bixler's performance brought believability to the strange hero's story.
A truly dynamic duo, Tayori Snipe's Thor and Athan Agostinho's Loki brought both chuckles and charm as they depicted the highs and lows of sibling rivalry and love. They both managed to toe the line between replicating the superheroes we know and love on the screen and creating new takes on well-known characters. They commanded the stage individually, but even more impressive was the chemistry between the two, leaving the audience with a sense of compassion and bittersweet, brotherly love.
Behind the scenes, Liam Gilmore led a valiant effort on designing and creating entirely original sound effects. Through recording peers playing guitar, composing music, and using everyday objects to make sound effects, Lightridge High School proved that students were capable of independently designing sound.
Meanwhile, the performers were adorned in simple, yet effective costumes. Led by Bailey Mitchell, Izzy Curico, and Shelley Carter, the outfits kept up with an extensive cast and provided fun differentiation between the multitude of characters. In addition to supplying the entire show with wardrobe, they also created clever solutions to some of the problems which arose when translating fantastical characters to the stage, such as providing a backpack to conceal Squirrel Girl's tail.
Overall, Lightridge's first ever Cappies production, Marvel Spotlight Plays, successfully carried the show's message that superheroes are more human than one may think. All three stories wove an endearing message of perseverance, comradery, and fun-loving heroes. With a super cast of multi-faceted actors and marvelous technical work, Lightridge put on a commendable production.