High school will always be a drama zone. It takes the strongest and smartest to know how to avoid it. Unknown
High school – those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.
Steve Carell as Frank Ginsberg in Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
For anyone who can recall steadily climbing the educational ladder for thirteen years (kindergarten through high school) and have fond memories of the uphill trek, you are either are a very good liar or one heavily sedated stooge who believed that school was a carefree experience with very little to no drama. Take a closer look and you will find critical individuals who encourage us as we go along, like my third grade teacher at Commonwealth elementary Ms. Tedrick and the students whose mission is to make your life regrettably, yeah, I am talking to you Ronnice Spillman from 7th grade at Virgil Junior High. Even the titles have changed. Middle school replaced junior high. You can change the name to Candyland but “middle school” will now be considered a peek into the future of high school existence.
Writer Colette Freedman, www.colettefreedman.com, created a musical yearbook of school tribulations, heartache and overall unnecessary BS as a young mind will encounter not only with the educational system but how certain people can help you succeed or watch and laugh as you progressively slide down the ladder of humiliation wondering how in the hell did you get here.
The story begins with single mother Barbara (an exceptional talented Kelley Dorney), affectionately known as Barbie, telling her very smart daughter Parker (the future Oscar nominee Grace Nakane) to finally pick one of ten outfits strewn all over her bedroom floor for school. The first-grader tirelessly explains to her mom that how you look the first day sets a tone for the rest of the school year. At first, Barbara dismisses her child’s theory and then, she gets to thinking that maybe Parker maybe right. As Parker finally picks an outfit, she coaxes her mother to tell her a bedtime story. However, nothing corny or unbelievable or anything that starts with “Once upon a time,” that’s the clue the story will take forever to end.
Barbara comes up about her being raised from elementary and finally reaching high school. It’s a tale of hijinks and survival. She recalls how life with the popular cheerleaders the Debbies made her cringe, feel uncomfortable and desperately wanting to belong. There’s militant type Debbi with an “I” (wonderfully played by Katy Jacoby), social-climbing Debbie with an “I,E” (Marti Maley) and always-a-phone-glued-to-her-ear Debby with a “y” who would make the perfect runner up for Ms. America (Kacey Coppola). The outsider wanting to join in and the mean girls who don’t need another member of their demented squad go through kindergarten all the way to the holy grail that is the 12th grade graduation, well, actually, some make it, I’m just saying!!
Joining on her agonizing cruise to adulthood is her childhood friend Bruce (a talented Alex Robert Holmes). He was the shy guy in high school who knew many girls, but, clearly preferred to go a different route. He is empathic and very smart, which makes him a good bestie toward Barbie. Bruce, however, would prefer that the gorgeous, Adonis’ twin, athlete Sebastian
(Cy Creamer) lean on him for support. Seriously, the boy is that hot!! Rounding off this motley crew are mean girls who are always together, the Debbies, silent Sharon (played by the irascible Jillian Fonacier) who has no problem cussing people out like a pampered diva. She has the capability of getting her message across even without speaking. She and Barbie need their own show. Both these women are dynamite.
Of course, there is the little cutie in the room that cannot be ignored. Grace Nakane as Parker plays it smart without coming across facetious. She is equal to her mother in intelligence and wordplay.
None of this marvelous collaboration could be possible without the skillful touch of artistic director Ronnie Marmo. He works his magic in recreating the horrors and hysterical antics of students through the years. It complements Freeman’s memorable songs and zip-fire dialogue that are both hysterical and notable. With songs from “What Do I Wear?” to the scantily clad wearing, Debbies pouring out their hearts, and everything else, in a sultry dance routine in “Consumer Whores.” It is impossible not to laugh your heart out.
Dorney is clearly a standout in this show. She’s bright, fun to watch, and is a great singer. I closed my eyes during one of her many solos and swore I heard the voice of the late torch singer Dinah Washington. Sisterwoman has some good pipes.
Serial Killer Barbie: The Musical is most definitely one of the funniest and will still be thought about it after the curtain drops. This is a must-see, must talked about over dessert and wine, and reminisces of your old school memories. Or drink enough so you can forget it. Either way, it’s a safe bet.
Serial Killer Barbie: The Musical plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at p.m. at The NoHo Arts Center, located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. For ticket information, and to reserve online, login at www.plays411.com/serialkillerbarbie.