REVIEW BY NATALIA VIVINO
On Friday, January 9, I had the pleasure of attending Agoura High School’s first-ever production of Bubble Boy, an original musical created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Unlike previous stage shows at Agoura High, Bubble Boy was entirely student run, making it all the more exceptional.
Under the direction of Rosalind Bevan and Jeremy Elder, a talented cast of teens told the story of a boy named Jimmy, played by the likeable Chris Reilly. During the show’s opening number, it was revealed to the audience that Jimmy (nicknamed the Bubble Boy from nearly everyone in town) lives sheltered off from the rest of the world because of a medical condition that his mother, played by junior Erin Schafheitle, claims will kill him. He is forced not to spend even one minute outside of his protective bubble for fear of being contaminated. Fortunately, Jimmy’s life takes an unexpected turn when a new girl moves in next door, and he discovers there may be more to life than his overprotective mother claims.
Reilly brings forth an exceptional performance as the musical’s leading man. His acting is memorable and likable, and there were moments when I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the boy trapped in the bubble. He made me laugh, but he also made me feel great empathy for his character’s situation, and as a performer, that takes talent. Nearly all of the songs featured in Bubble Boy have the ability to stick with you long after the final bows, and Jimmy’s are no exception. Reilly had several chances to show off his vocals in numbers like “It Will Be Chloe,” “Outta Here,” and “It Will Be Mark.”
Mr. and Mrs. Livingston are a peculiar couple at best, and their individual personas kept me wondering what makes them tick. It takes an entire act-and-a-half before Mr. Livingston ever utters a word, and during an unexpected song titled “You Can See The Moon Today,” he has the chance to spend a rare moment on stage alone with his son. Mrs. Livingston, on the other hand, is overprotective to a fault. At times, she reminded me of a classic Mother Gothel from Rapunzel. Schafheitle plays the character so well that I found myself disliking her even more as the show progressed. Her comedic timing is delightful, and when paired with her powerful operatic voice in the Act I song “Stay Clean,” it proves especially entertaining.
Corinne Burkert plays Chloe, the misunderstood girl-next-door, and Jimmy’s love interest. Being only a sophomore, her clear vocals are the most memorable part of her performance. Burkert wows the audience during songs such as “Falling For The Boy” and “Decontaminate Me,” and her chemistry with Reilly onstage was memorable. Their scenes together are endearing, as are the duets “Please Stay” and “There’s A Bubble Around My Heart.”
Besides the leading players mentioned above, Bubble Boy is also filled with several other supporting characters and featured ensemble members. Adam Fisher gives a hilarious performance as Mark, the wannabe rock star who is desperate to win Chloe’s affections. Other supporting roles included the quirky Kyle Lewis as the Indian ice cream peddler, Pushpahp, Parker Apple as Slim, the compassionate Spanish leader of a biker gang, and Max Kennedy as Shawn, Mark’s best friend and band mate. During the song “Something Called Forever,” Fisher and Kennedy earned loud applause from the audience. Apple’s mature vocals impress in his song “Regret,” and Lewis is delightful after striking and killing a cow with his motorized pushcart, explaining, “It’s An Elk.”
The entire cast is so good that one has to remind oneself that the entire show is student-run. In addition to the talented cast members and co-directors, other students helped bring the show to life, including eleventh graders Hannah Gross (production stage manager) and Joseph Solmor (assistant stage manager). Sophomore Annie Tarashansky serves as musical director, with Shua Jo as her assistant.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Bubble Boy, and watching the original cast made it all the more exciting. I wouldn’t be surprised if the story itself gains more popularity in the future. It has all the qualities of a likeable tale, complete with just the right amount of comedy and the ability to encourage each of us to escape our own personal bubbles.