If you are a fan of short musicals with a meaningful message, Act V Theatre Co.’s production of “21 Chump Street” was the perfect musical to see at Memorial Auditorium last week.
Known as the shortest musical ever written, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Act V captured a meaningful message during its rendition of the musical on Thursday and Friday.
The musical consisted of five songs and was a total of 15 minutes long. Based on the podcast, “This American Life,” the musical tells the tale of a high school boy named Justin Laboy and how he falls for an undercover agent named Naomi Rodriguez.
The story follows Laboy, played by SU student Justin Persicketti, and shows how he would do anything for new student Rodriguez, played by senior Sophia Jones.
Rodriguez is trying to bust high schoolers for dealing drugs, and asks Laboy to get her some. Laboy does not use drugs, but through connections gets Rodriguez marijuana.
He refuses to take the money she offers him, but finally does when she kisses him and slips it into his back pocket.
Because he took the money and is 18 years old, Laboy is arrested with 37 other students and spends a week in jail.
What was unique about the musical is that it had elements of humor from students who were back-up singers and dancers, played by SU students Francesca Forti, Tyler Rock and Stephanie Rodriguez.
The narrator, Travis Houtz, was also very interactive with the characters, asking them their sides of the story.
Director Bernie Schneider was proud of how her first musical turned out.
“It was more than I expected, we had about 140 people show up, which for a 15-minute show on a Thursday and Friday night is huge,” Schneider said.
Schneider hopes that the audience took away an awareness of their actions.
“You can’t trust everyone you know. You might think you know someone but emotions get in the way, and our relationships between people are extremely important on how they affect our lives,” Schneider said. “The really big point of the show is that every action you have has consequences.”
Houtz enjoyed his role as narrator, especially because it was the only part that talked the entirety of the musical.
“I loved being cast in a musical where all I had to do was talk and narrate,” Houtz said.
Forti, who played Tina, was happy she got to be part of the comedy in the musical.
“I enjoyed playing the comedic relief in the show and being able to lighten the mood of the overall tone of the musical,” Forti said.
At the end of each show, guest speakers talked to the audience about the police and drug sides of the problem.
Shippensburg University assistant track-and-field coach Kurt Dunkel spoke on Friday about the work he does with students with drug and alcohol problems, and how people need to have a conversation about the topic.
SU criminal justice professor Stephanie Jirard spoke more on the behalf of Rodriguez’s character as a police officer.
The musical offered two nights of performances Thursday and Friday at 6:30 and 8 p.m.