This year marks the 45th Christ College Freshman Production, and this year’s freshman CC class did justice to the occasion with a hilarious, clever and fun performance.
The show, titled “Absolutely Anything,” follows the town of Cinobub, which is stricken with a plague. Quinn (Kiley Webber) is a member of the village who ventures to the capitol city of Lyer to demand help from King Basil (Tom Paul) to save her dying brother, Theodore (Charlie Presar).
King Basil agrees to put his effort into finding a cure, so long as Quinn agrees to tutor his daughter, Rowan (Jennifer Perkne), a stumbling, poorly-worded girl whose past tutors have given up due to her passionate and childish distaste for learning. The scenes where Quinn attempts to form her into a more eloquent future queen are standouts, with the hilarious butting of heads between the two of them turning into a mutual respect and friendship.
Other standout characters include Victor (Ben Roubik), the cartoonishly evil and two-faced assistant to the king, who is interrupted in the middle of a song about his plot to overthrow the king by the king himself seeking relationship advice regarding the queen. This is ironic because Victor is seeing her behind the king’s back. The king himself is clueless, but well-meaning and full of nicknames and puns that never failed to stir chuckles from the audience.
One of my favorite moments involves two jesters shouting, “Art thou ready to party?” before performing hilariously simple magic tricks that completely enthrall the king. That, along with characters holding names like Nutter Butter, Harold the Herald and Chef Boi’ardi, makes it clear the smaller roles get their share of laugh-out-loud moments alongside the bigger roles.
The music in the show wasn’t overly memorable, but served its purpose well.
The title song of the play, “Absolutely Anything,” explores both the good and bad characters’ intentions and the lengths they will go to in order to reach their goals.
My personal favorite song, titled, “I Get the Job Done,” sees various wacky characters competing to be Victor’s hired assassin in a bar, only to be poisoned in the end by the bartender who coyly steals the job.
Other fun songs see the impatient, sickly peasant chorus coughing on the snooty nobles from the wealthy kingdom in “Who’s That Girl?” and a chaotic hamboning break in the middle of “Cheers! Cheers! Cheers!”
The show did stumble a bit when it came to character development and deeper themes.
While Quinn is clearly intended to be the protagonist and main character of the play, she ultimately only serves to develop Rowan’s character in the latter half of the show and fails to develop at all as a character herself.
Rowan takes center stage in the final act of the show as she stands up to Victor to save her father (and the day), which is an excellent scene, but hardly includes Quinn at all.
Quinn is more of a flawless mentor to Rowan by the end, instead of the main protagonist, but it’s not overly clear what Rowan has learned from Quinn other than a few sword fighting maneuvers and a little empathy for the village folk.
The philosophical message of the show seemed to be with great power comes great responsibility, and those in positions of power have no right to do as they please. This message is good, but it’s not the center of the show and is hardly questioned or struggled with. The idea only comes up in the beginning and the end, when Rowan decides to spare Victor’s life. There’s the idea of Quinn’s struggle between staying with her brother and going to find a cure, but it fails to be interesting or compelling since she would never choose watching her brother die over trying to save him if she truly cared about him.
Regardless, this year’s Freshman Production was a great capstone to the semester-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of Christ College.
I cannot remember the last time a play or musical made me laugh as much as this year’s production did, and the class should be immensely proud of all of the work they’ve put into the project since the beginning of the semester. The lovable characters, unforgettable surprises, hilarious writing and clever stage design (four large rectangles painted on both sides, making easy and effective backdrops) should be held as a standard for future productions.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.