Thomas Edison High School Li’l AbnerBy Cappies • May 9th, 2007 • Category: Cappies
Get ready to run, America! It’s Sadie Hawkins Day and Thomas Edison High School is roarin’ and ready to stupefy you with their wacky rendition of Li’l Abner.
Daisy Mae and Lil Abner
Opening on November 15th, 1956 at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, Li’l Abner was adapted from the wildly popular comic strip by Al Capp. Winning a Tony Award for Choreography and Best Featured Actress in a Musical, this fluffy political satire takes place in Dogpatch, USA and follows the not-so-little Abner Yokum (Ben Ray) as he dives into government, society and marriage.
Leading the cast with brawny abandon, Ben Ray’s rural mannerisms and southern drawl were dead on as Li’l Abner. Ray depicted his robust character comfortably while fishing with the boys in “If I Had My Druthers” and showed consistent chemistry with Jennifer Jewell as the popular Daisy Mae Scragg. Jewell was enjoyable to watch and showed emotion in “Namely You” as she sang of her love for Abner. Ray and Jewell made for an adorable couple, and were convincing as they said their “I dos” in the last scene.
Christina Manzo and Justin Ahdoot commanded attention and earned gales of giggles as Mammy and Pappy Yokum. Ahdoot gallivanted about, using a riotous character voice and showed off an abundant source of comedic timing. Manzo played off Ahdoot hilariously as she scolded him, and the pair interacted with the ensemble beautifully, though at times they were difficult to understand. As the cheeky Evil Eye Fleagle, Nana Amoah, Jr. also received laughter with his over-the-top facial expressions and ludicrous antics. Amoah doubled as Tomboy and danced exuberantly into the hearts of audience members, never breaking character.
Lacking in class but never enthusiasm, the Dogpatchers filled the production with pizzazz throughout “Dogpatch Dance” and their buoyant energy was contagious. Begging and pleading for their much less attractive husbands, the Wives denied the well endowed hunks with cantankerous characterization in “Put Em Back The Way They Wuz.” And while some principal characters showed issues with pitch and diction, the ensemble made up for it in “Jubilation T. Cornpone” by singing with conviction and projecting above the talented Thomas Edison Orchestra, despite minor sound malfunctions.
Colorful and country costumes lit up the stage. Elise Glad, Ally Foreman and Christina Manzo designed a splendiferous money scarf and added plaid patches to overalls to complete the provincial ambiance “Li’l Abner” possesses. Matching the splashy dresses, actresses donned large flowers in their comical hair-dos and cheerful make-up (Amanda Wessell). Andrew O’Neal‘s set kept up the colorful atmosphere by using a picturesque backdrop and cartoon-like Jubilation T. Cornpone statue.
With no need for high-falutin’ frills or the broadening of horizons, the hillbillies from Thomas Edison High School take an unnecessary town and turn it into 500lbs of fun. Just remember boys, stay away from Mammy’s Yokumberry Tonic!
by Taylor Hart of Homeschool ITS
This review was written by a Cappies high school critic. The Cappies were founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.
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