Teen critic Bedell on ‘One Bad Apple’: Breath of fresh air

Eleven Charlotte-area high school students are competing in the new theater criticism category of the Blumey Awards, the Blumenthal Performing Arts’ annual musical theater awards program (read more about that here.) Each student writes three reviews; the following is one entry:

There was something clean and original about Rocky River High School’s “One Bad Apple.” It was a breath of fresh air after strained performances of high schools trying to mimic Broadway productions.

The musical, first commissioned by Stanford University, is inspired by the Biblical creation story. Gospel-like songs run through it, along with plenty of comedy and zeal. God (played by Destine Carrington) appears as a strong, independent woman, and her “business” is comprised of two archangels (Amber Daniels and Niccolo Roditti) fighting for the chance to create the perfect human. To the archangels’ surprise, God approves both of their prototypes, man (Sean Myhand) and woman (Amy Perzel), each with their own talents and shortcomings. Lucifer (Kendal Adams) and his demon, Malice (Brandon Osley), are out to ruin the whole thing.

This performance was so simple. Characters wore everyday clothing; some did not even wear shoes on stage. Only three instruments – piano, bass and drums – made up the orchestra, but the sound filled up the auditorium. Set changes were minimal. Though microphones were not used, actors spoke loudly and clearly enough for those in the back row to hear well. Rocky River proved that fancy technology, props, and costumes are not what make a performance great.

What does make a performance great is the cast. The passion of each actor was astounding. Even the 9-member chorus, which oscillated among angels, animals and golden cherubs, stood out because of its ebullience. Carrington sung her heart out, powerfully reaching every note with confidence, and Adams craftily sang Perzel into accepting the infamous apple. Myhand even comically strayed off-key to exemplify the true humanity of Adam.

I loved Rocky River’s confidence in simplicity and originality. So many high schools go over-the-top with their performances, leaving viewers astounded with the size of props and multitude of costumes, rather than the depth of the play’s story. Schools should focus more on fun and entertainment than Broadway perfection, and Rocky River accomplished this in “One Bad Apple.”