Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Heritage High School Mulan

By • Mar 10th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Sip deeper into the steaming green tea and you might just catch a glimpse of riveting family dishonor, passionate battles, and even a larger-than-life, feisty guardian dragon. Heritage High School invites you to experience the exquisite Chinese story Mulan.

Disney adapted their classic 1998 animated movie, which featured such celebrities voice-overs as Eddie Murphy, into a Junior musical. In ancient China, another war calls for Mulan’s injured father to suit up for battle, but Mulan disobeys her father’s order and Chinese law by impersonating a son and claiming her father’s place. The soldiers must battle the brawling Huns, but soon enough, the men discover Mulan’s deep secret, forging her disgrace to her family and self. The Huns attack the Imperial City, much to the soldiers’ avail, but Mulan pops up to save the day, finally achieving honor for her family and self-realization that strict tradition was meant to be broken.

The cast did a fine job with their given resources of a Junior-translated musical, creatively staging the musical like Chinese presentational style. The vocals were on point, never weak or off-tune. However, the cast’s positive energy and interactions with each other lacked full commitment.

The innocent and spunky Mulan (Christi McCarthy) performed with an adorable sparkle, soaring cleanly through her songs. From his first eccentric steps on stage, Mushu (Brandon Spann) exuberated a funky attitude that was at a quality above the par. His lines and interactions never failed in comic delivery, yet Spann still managed to ignite convincing, whole-hearted chemistry along side McCarthy.

The crowd pleaser Chi Fu (Bennett Layman) oozed the essence of his hilarious, animated character. Layman perfected his side-splitting dainty body movements and shrill vocal inflections. The ensemble of the three Chinese soldiers worked cohesively together in a rousing “Girl Worth Fighting For”, singing powerfully and with a joyous comradery of true soldiers. Dancing included fluid lyrical leaps to jazzy swing partner lifts, but many dancers seemed off-synchronization, while some choreography appeared disjointed from the action and too difficult for the dancers’ ability.

The set was minimal, using items to layer the aesthetic motif of wispy watercolors, however some pieces looked unfinished and unpolished. Scene changes were discrete and simple, allowing the plot to pace quickly. The sound illuminated the actors’ voices well, but sometimes the sound gave feedback or changed inconsistently in volume.

Many musicals conjure stress into the hearts of many, but it was absolutely written in stone that Heritage High School would perform beautifully in their version of Mulan.

by Janice Van of South County

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