By Thomas Brandon
There is something to be said for watching performers have a blast on stage, especially young actors like the cast of Moby Dick! The Musical, currently playing at Providence High School. Produced in association with Discovery Onstage, the show is a gleeful mishmash of comedic elements and a self-aware sensibility.
Faced with impending closure, the students at the Saint Godley’s School for (mostly) Young Ladies decide to raise enough money by putting on a musical version of Moby Dick. As the janitors and schoolgirls don their costumes, we see the familiar high school types reinterpreted through the lens of Melville’s famous novel. Whale hunting ensues.
The tongue-in-cheek recreation lends itself well to a high school show and encourages us not to take anything too seriously. The book and music are a roller coaster of wildly varied styles and genres, some more successful than others.
Despite the hit-and-miss quality of the performances and the occasional difficulty with the musical range, the entire cast fully commits, and their liveliness is contagious. With such an excess of energy, however, the group numbers sometime feel more chaotic and unfocused than the solos and duets, which are where the production really shines.
Andrew Carrillo, playing the school’s Headmistress (who takes it upon herself to play Ahab), is a joy to watch, as is Alyssa Hitchcock, who never forgets that she’s a high schooler playing a sailor.
Director Dominic Catrambone and producer Jeremy Kent Jackson have obviously put a lot of thought into maximizing the show’s impact, and the audience certainly seemed to enjoy it. Of course, when watching the cast have so much fun, it’s pretty easy to join in.
Moby Dick! The Musical (book and lyrics by Robert Longden and Hereward Kay and arrangement by Martin Koch) runs through March 20 at Providence High School in Burbank. Performances run Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (818) 846-8141 ext. 203, or by visiting www.providencehigharts.org.