April 18, 2012 - What if the feuding noble families in the famous play "Romeo & Juliet" were replaced with rival fast food chains?
Introducing some of the cast of Crumpled Classics – Bottom row (sitting): Danielle Kemp, Greg Marshall and Jacob Donovan. Middle row (sitting): Brittany Kleinschmidt and Alexis Lopiciccolo and Katie Krane. Back row (standing): Trenton Sabo, Casey Wright, Connor Waple, Brooke Viviano, Katie Marsh, Tori Spring and Kendall Todd. (click for larger version)
That's the type of modern – and comedic – twists that audiences will experience when the Oxford Middle School Drama Club presents "Crumpled Classics," written by Craig Sodaro, at 7:01 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28.
"The kids have had a lot of fun with it," said Jack Gray, director, drama club advisor and OMS teacher. "It's nice because there's a lot of short scenes strung together with a frame story. It got a lot of kids involved, so it's not heavily reliant on one particular lead. It's a nice ensemble piece."
Both performances will take place at the Oxford High School Fine Arts Center (745 N. Oxford Rd.). Admission is $5 for adults. Students and children are free when accompanied by an adult.
The play revolves around a group of students who decide to put on the school's annual "Classics on Parade" show, in which the literary works they've studied are acted out on stage.
With their regular teacher out sick, the students decide to put a unique spin on each of the timeless tales.
Imagine Frankie Stein trying to assemble the perfect prom date. Or Shirley Holmes and Joni Watson trying to make a go of their new detective agency. Or how about a second-rate theatrical agent becoming the Phantom of the Opera so he can force a better deal for his client.
It all sounds amusing, but not to their poor teacher when he finds out what his students have been up to in his absence.
"The (school's) principal is basically talking to the superintendent throughout the play and the teacher is fearing for his job because they've changed the classics so much," Gray said.
The play was originally five scenes, but Gray took it upon himself to write a sixth.
The sixth scene combines the genius of English playwright William Shakespeare with the brilliance of modern filmmaker George Lucas.
"It's called Hamlet Strikes Back," Gray said. "It's an homage to Star Wars and Hamlet. There's characters like Obiwan-Polonius and Inspector Han Fortensolo. You'd be surprised how well it all fits together."
The play was selected by the OMS Drama Club's executive board, which is made up of seventh and eighth-graders.
"They voted on it," Gray explained. "It's a very democratic process . . . That's how I've been doing it for the last four or five years.
"When you have student input, I think you get a lot more buy-in from them. They're at that age where they really want the buy-in – they want to be part of the decision. It makes them feel like it's their own. You get a really dedicated core group of kids that way."
Between cast and tech crew, approximately 50 students – ranging from sixth to eighth-graders – are involved in the play.
"I'm real proud of them this year," Gray said. "They're doing a nice job."
All proceeds from "Crumpled Classics" will benefit the OMS Drama Club.
"Every dollar we make goes toward next year's show," Gray said. "My budget every year is based on what I made from the previous play."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.