Review: Jump for Glee! Fails to Make the Grade
On Wednesday night I attended Jump for Glee! – my second trip to Jubilations Dinner Theatre this year. After my positive experience last time, I was less reluctant for this trip, even though I like the Glee TV show only slightly more than I like Corner Gas, which isn’t much. I know a musical theatre buff probably should be a fan, and a lot of people obviously are, but I just haven’t been able to get into it. Maybe it’s because the music isn’t original. Maybe it’s because they break into song throughout the show for no apparent reason – I know, hard-core critics would say the same of stage musicals, or any musical for that matter. At least because the show is based around a singing group, there are some plausible excuses to sing. Maybe I just find it too silly. I don’t know. The Jubilations formula is pretty similar to the Glee formula, which makes it a natural place to do a spoof of the original. I spoke about Jubilations and that formula in my post on Corner Gassed 2, so I’ll skip that here and skip straight to the show.
The plot in a musical like this isn’t particularly important, but in case you care, the premise here is that all the extracurricular programmes in the school have to put on a showcase (surprise!) to ensure they receive funding the following year. Of course, ex-cheerleading coach, Sue Stallone (Michelle Hoppe), takes advantage of the situation to try to rid herself of her rival, Mr. Schoopster (Danny Gullekson), and his annoying Glee club once and for all. On top of that, there’s the high school drama of “peer pressure, texting, parent pressure, pressure to text, Under Pressure by Queen, falling in love, heart-break, and even a little school work.” (Well, not much, if any, school work, actually). This show features a range of music from classic rock, to traditional favourites, to contemporary hits, just like the TV show, and of course, several mashups.
This show didn’t do much for me. I found scriptwriter Cory Wojcik’s plot thin (even by the standard of the genre) and not particularly funny, although the actors tried to make the most of it. I also thought the variety of music made the show lack cohesion, and it might have benefited from being more tightly built around a theme musically, as “jukebox musicals” like this often are. On the other hand, one could argue that there is enough variety to please everyone. The performances I liked best were “I Wanna Hold Your Hand/Hold Me Tight (The Beatles), ”Express Yourself” (Madonna), “ABC” (The Jackson 5), and “Let’s Get It On” (Marvin Gaye).
On a positive note, I loved Gillian Moon’s exuberant portrayal of the ditzy cheerleader and glee-clubber Bethany Febreeze, not to mention her great dance moves and her musical pairings with the charming Tenaj Williams (football captain Flint Hudson), who is making his professional debut with this show. While the rest of the young cast are also strong singers (especially Kelly Benzing as diva Rachelle Barry), these two stood out for me, especially as actors/dancers. The audience seemed to get a hoot out of Jeff Rivet’s flamboyant performance as Kirk Hommelberg, but even though it’s meant to be a spoof, I thought he played it much too stereotypically gay for my taste. Another strength of the show was the choreography by Kristen Sawatzky, and the actors did a great job with that. One of the highlights of my evening was server and “additional cast member” Dexter (Jordan Riley)’s patter and jokes as he entertained us during the intermissions and encouraged people to get up on stage with the different clubs. I agreed to join his “I Hate The Macarena” Club :(, when he gets that going. And you’re right, Dexter, the Macarena Club’s hats are definitely NOT sombreros, no matter what they say.
In conclusion, while die-hard Glee and Jubilations fans might well enjoy this show, since Jubilations does five shows a year, and I know they can do better, I’d be inclined to give this one a failing grade, and wait for next term.
Jump for Glee! runs until June 24th from Wednesday to Sunday, with matinees on the weekends. Ticket prices range from $44.95 to $69.95 ($30.95 for children 12 and under). On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, your Jubilations ticket also gets you into the Aussie Rules duelling piano bar next door (normally $10). For more information, go to: Jubilations Dinner Theatre.