I had high hopes heading into Rockwell’s Musical Parody of Never Been Kissed. The theater has a great track record in this genre, their take on Mean Girls, Clueless, and 10 Things I Hate About You some of the most memorable productions. I’m happy to report that the newest addition doesn’t disappoint, fitting right into the canon of high school comedy classics.
Jordan Ross Schindler’s clever script, Emma Hunton’s lively direction, and Mallory Butcher’s fun choreography have proven to be winning ingredients on their own (Schindler’s work on Cruel Intentions, Hunton’s experience with A League of Their Own, and Butcher’s contributions to It have all stood out to me as being some of Rockwell’s best), so it comes as no surprise that the combination is a recipe for success. The cohesive and innovative creative production sets a solid foundation on which the actors can play.
And play they do. Each performer in this cast gets their moment to shine. Most of the cast does double duty as Josie’s workplace crew and high school squad, both of which are equally enthralling and entertaining.
Lana McKissack, a longtime staple of the company, absolutely soars in her leading role as Josie. She brings a steady balance of innocence and ambition to the part, and although the comedy can get a bit screwball, it’s a genuinely sweet delight to see Josie blossom into a more confident, self-assured woman throughout the course of the story.
Nathan Moore does a great job as Josie’s romantic counterpart: Sam Coulson, hot English teacher extraordinaire. He’s a master at making the subtler, more intellectual jokes land (a throwaway line about the difference between pastoral literature and al pastor tacos might be my favorite of the show) while also helping to ground the production. You can’t help but hold your breath as you wait for him to (hopefully, finally) give Josie her first smooch.
Other standouts include Natalie Masini, who seamlessly toggles from uptight, aggressively 90s boss Gayle to too-cool-for-school mean girl Kirsten, and Rockwell newcomer Matt Shively, who gets gut-busting laughs as both Josie’s desperate but lovable brother Rob and unapologetically loud Rigfort. Shively’s over-the-top performance as the latter is hysterical and would undoubtedly have made Gary Marshall proud.
Completing the cast is the wonderful Katie Self, whose lovably geeky as Aldys is simply irresistible, Erron Crawford, who takes Rufus to the next level as effortlessly cool (and hilariously vain) Guy and Billy, and Amanda Shechtman and Markesha Chatfield, who round out the magnetic trio of popular girls with Masini.
The music is woven in perfectly to the show, and all the 90s hits will have you dancing in your seat. From powerful numbers like “Wonderwall” and “I’m Still Standing” to comedically placed bits like “Barbie Girl” and “Let’s Talk About Sex,” the tunes are thematically spot-on and delivered with Broadway-caliber vocals.
In addition to unbeatable entertainment, Rockwell also offers a selection of delicious food and beverages. I enjoyed the cowboy burger, truffle fries, and the Drunkard Martini. I’ve tried many a drink at Rockwell, and the martini—with its fresh blueberry and lemon flavors—is my new go-to.
You don’t want to miss Rockwell’s Musical Parody of Never Been Kissed. The show runs every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at noon from now until February 23rd. Tickets are available now.
About The Author:
Taylor Gates earned a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Evansville and works as a content specialist in Los Angeles. Taylor is currently a staff writer for the online entertainment website Starry Constellation Magazine, and her reviews and interviews have been featured on BuzzFeed and FANVERSATION.
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