21 Chump Street: A review

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Photo: Just So Society

If you are unfamiliar with the 15-minute musical that is 21 Chump Street (as I was when I first attended the event), it is a short stage performance about a high school boy named Justin who obtains marijuana for a fellow classmate he crushes on, only to find out she is an undercover cop who busts him. First impressions as the show commenced were simple enough; the stage’s only set was laid out with chairs and a desk in a classroom formation, seating the entire cast of five ‘students’ and one ‘teacher’. However, it soon became apparent that 21 Chump Street contained more complexity than I presumed, since – being so short – the play had to be performed in single acts with different scenes that transition very quickly. The cast managed to pull this off smoothly, without giving the show a stilted feel in the least. The musical was undoubtedly an upbeat and fun experience that was carried by the energy and enthusiasm of all cast members. With only six actors on stage, everybody was in the limelight at some – if not most – parts, and so each performance was as strong as this made necessary.

Some of the lyrics and lines in this musical were somewhat soppy in nature; however, the cast did an excellent job of taking this in their stride to prevent the ambiance becoming cheesy or cringe-worthy. The songs included were vocally impressive, with the two main lead roles accomplishing especially strong performances, both as a duo and in solo. Some songs were also lead by the ensemble, who harmonised and coordinated their stage performances perfectly.

Dancing and movement were also principle aspects of the play. Characters made full use of the stage area by moving around as they sang, giving the audience a better visual performance. The ensemble cast who formed the ‘classmates’ also broke out spontaneously into their signature dance moves on several occasions, which the audience found highly comical.

Altogether, 21 Chump Street was a slick, smooth and ultimately very funny show, which was additionally choreographed very well. The cast worked well together to deliver a musical which, despite being short, was not lacking in bravado or charisma. Each actor was able to exhibit individual talent on stage, in order to give the audience an entertaining and light-hearted experience

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