Last week, when most of you were out seeing the Hunger Games movie, I was seeing something totally different. Not that I didn't want to see The Hunger Games, but! How often do you get the chance to see REAL teenage drama in action? Not very, unless you're the parent or teacher of a teenager, and in that case, paying eight bucks to see what you get for free probably isn't all that appealing. Anyway, what I'm talking about is a REAL high school musical! One of the high schools in my town performed Legally Blonde: The Musical last week, and so OF COURSE I had to go. 1. It's one of my favorite movies 2. it's a MUSICAL 3. real high school kids being all talented and awesome and shizz and 4. cute doggies! Seriously, if you get the chance to check out a high school play, it's totally one of the most fun things you'll ever do.
I decided to do a little comparison of real life vs. books, since one of the staples in YA lit is drama club (Tiny Cooper, I LOVE YOU!!!). Since I wasn't in drama club in high school, though some of my friends were, it was especially important for me to do a little recon. I've come up with a handy little analysis of how real high school musicals compare to the YA lit versions.
1. The Cast: Elle Woods
The girl who gets the part of Elle Woods only gets it because she's blonde and can talk like Reese Witherspoon, so naturally all the die-hard drama girls are super jealous. But! She gets really grossly sick the night of the performance, and the understudy -- our heroine -- gets to take over, and OMG THERE'S A BROADWAY SCOUT IN THE AUDIENCE!! And her secret crush (the male lead) totally falls in love with her and realizes his relationship with the bitchy other actress is just for convenience.
ALTERNATE YA VERSION
The girl who gets the part of Elle Woods only gets it because she's blonde and can talk like Reese Witherspoon, so naturally all the die-hard drama girls are super jealous. But! She's actually really nice, and it turns out geeks are just as guilty of stereotyping as the popular girls, and she was only a cheerleader so her mom didn't find out she was a lesbian or something. And really, her secret dream is to be an actress, so she ditches all the popular kids and embraces her inner drama queen.
REAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL
The girl who gets the part of Elle Woods is blonde and talks like Reese Witherspoon, and she's a cheerleader. This is her first play, and all her cheerleader friends come out to see it and are SUPER EXCITED OMG. She really talks like Reese Withersppon! And is really blonde! There doesn't appear to be any inter-cast tension or hint of sudden gross illness, but the drama club girl who plays Paulette has a ROCKIN' voice and it's too bad she doesn't look more like Reese. And the Delta Nu girls are HILARIOUS.
2. The Cast: Warner Huntington, III
(Did you know he had a last name? I didn't!)
The guy who plays Warner is super hot and all the girls love him. He has a bitchy girlfriend, and The Girl Who Plays Elle Woods has had a secret crush on him since 6th grade. He cheats on the girlfriend with TGWPEW, and she thinks they're meant to be, but she eventually realizes he's a total douchebag and she dumps him either on opening night or at the cast party, in front of everyone. Just like in the play!
The guy who plays Warner would TOTALLY make a great Gay Will Grayson, although he sings like Justin Bieber. I doubt he has a girlfriend, but he seems really nice and funny. There's no chemistry between him and TGWPEW, so it's a good thing they don't have to kiss. (Dear high schools: PLEASE will someone put on a production of Tiny Dancer? Pretty please?)
3. The Cast: Emmett Forest
(He has a last name, too!)
So Emmett is TOTALLY hot, but in a secret-muscles kind of way. He's had a major crush on TGWPEW, but she's so not into him. But as they work on the play, there's major chemistry! And they end up making out in the costume closet during rehearsal of Paulette's interminable Ireland number (seriously, you guys, this is the worst. But the rest of the musical is totally awesome). Although obvs not if TGWPEW is actually a lesbian. In that case, TGWPEW makes out with Paulette during the rehearsal of one of the Delta Nu scenes.
Zero chemistry. And you guys, no one is making out with anyone. There are no kisses AT ALL, except one stage kiss from creeper Professor Callahan, much to the great chagrin of the row of cheerleaders behind me, who spent the entire time trying to figure out who their BFF, the real GWPEW, was going to kiss. She and Emmett only hugged. HUGGED. You guys, it was like Liz Wakefield and Todd Wilkins.
This isn't from the high school version, because I can't find any pics anywhere and I didn't take any because of that whole "minor child consent" thing. And the "NO CAMERAS" thing (see teacher, below)
In the book, I'd be swooning all over the place for Emmett or maybe the funny guy who hams it up as Kyle, the UPS guy. There'd be panties melting during the costume closet make out scene, and major fist pumps when TGWPEW kicks Warner to the curb.
YOU GUYS. There's a huge difference between high school kids in books and real life. In books, they're in my head. In real life? THEY'RE TEENAGERS. A WORLD OF NO. G-R-O-S-S.
5. The Teacher
The drama teacher is flamboyantly gay, inspiring, and universally loved by students. He's controversial among parents because of his lifestyle and his role as faculty sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Putting on a production of Legally Blonde: The Musical gets him into trouble with the school board because of its open, jokey approach to sex and sexuality, particularly the number "There, Right There!" with the refrain, "Is he gay? Or European?"
The drama teacher totally does that teacher thing where he stops talking and gets that smirky, "I'm waaaaiiting ..." look on his face when the audience is talking during his preshow announcements. Ugh. Totally straight, too. And the town doesn't seem to care about the sex and sexuality in the play -- yay! Things have come a LONG way since my high school days.
6. The Sets
The sets would be super elaborate, with maybe pink feathers raining down from the ceiling. Also, something would malfunction and crush bitchy TGWPEW or cheatdog Warner. Maybe the dog who plays Bruiser would bite one of them, and they'd have to spend opening night in the ER getting rabies shots.
The sets were minimal, but fun, as befits a public school budget. I totally would have wanted to be the crew member who got to dress in black and wear a white board on my back and be part of the wall in Elle's sorority house. Oh, and there was a disco ball!
So it's official! YA is totally not always like real high school, for which I can say THANK GOD. Because who'd want to read about real high school? But seriously, these kids were so amazing and talented, and it was a great show! It's super fun to see real teenagers being cool and talented and teenager-y!