The Intern, the Marmalade, and the Robbery

Coordinated by Rayen Zhou and produced by Dale Heller, Johnny Liu, and Adeline Sauberli, this year’s Junior SING! took on a museum theme, telling the story of a high school reunion and robbery gone wrong.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

“We’re stuck in a museum with a bunch of thieves, right? Well, why don’t we go look for them?”

Coordinated by Rayen Zhou and produced by Dale Heller, Johnny Liu, and Adeline Sauberli, this year’s Junior SING! took on a museum theme, telling the story of a high school reunion and robbery gone wrong. Before the curtains rose, Junior Slate—who delivered an upbeat musical introduction—unveiled the Student Union (SU)’s new SING! plaque. As the lights dimmed, the audience was introduced to a woeful museum janitor (Dylan Ross). As he lamented his wasteful position in life, the SING! plaque disappeared, stolen by two conniving thieves, Rose (Daniella Solomon) and Clover (Bowden Chen). By the time he noticed, it was too late, thus starting the show off with a bang. 

The show began with a brilliant rendition of “Grease,” where each character introduced themselves to the audience, starting with Marcello Marmalade (Milo Smulanksy). As he moonwalked and spun around on stage, Smulanksy quickly set the humorous tone of the show, all while depicting Marcello, the museum’s owner, as dictatorial and money-oriented. Then came Marcello’s overworked intern Penny (Rachel Alvarez), high school sweethearts Grant (Dylan Ross) and Beverly (Andrea Wang), the comedic Detective Sloane (Elizabeth Neftin), the snobby lawyer Jordan (Louise Wang), and token emo Emmett (Gabriella Hoefner). With the introduction of each character, junior costumes’ design shone—from the brilliantly designed lawyer outfit to the elegant and shining dress worn by Beverly. Each costume served both accurately represented the character that we were meeting; the costumes were among Junior SING!’s biggest strengths. Though the musical primarily centered around Penny and Marcello, each character had their own subplot, which, though amusing, felt out of place or incomplete at times.

Following the thrilling introductory song, the audience was transported to Marcello’s office, where he was seen playing the Wordle. Unfortunately, the projector that broadcast the Wordle screen did not work during Thursday’s show, much to the audience’s confusion. However, as two staff members, Hubert (Max Schoenstein) and Skippy (Samira Ahmed), ran in and notified Marcello of the burglary—hilariously accompanied by Physical Education teacher Vincent Miller on Friday and Assistant Principal of School Safety Brian Moran on Saturday—the audience’s attention was quickly drawn to Smulanksy’s acting. The audience was also better introduced to Marcello and Penny’s relationship, which was humorously displayed by the former’s constant critiques, even interrupting Alvarez’s melodious singing in the beginning lines of “What Was I Made For?”

As news of the robbery spread through the museum, the audience was quickly introduced to more cast members and crews. In particular, Bolly started the plot’s buildup with an electric performance to “Sadi Gali.” Despite having missed their cues during Thursday night’s show, junior Bolly, with its shimmering turquoise costumes and energetic dance moves, stole the show, proving to be one of the strongest dance crew performances across all SING! shows. As they finished their performance, the museum’s alarms began to blare, accompanied by flashing red lights, much to the fright of the museum visitors—notably, one of them (Munem Tajwar) proceeded to do the worm across the stage. The story was set into motion as they were told that the museum was in lockdown: no one was to leave, meaning that our supporting cast was trapped together. 

Next, we saw Clover and Rose, the amateur thieves, once more. As Rose leaned against a wall, the museum’s laser security system was initiated, which marked the entryway of Flow’s performance to a musical rendition of “Tank.” The performance was well synchronized and coordinated, with the solo ending trick as the cherry on top: junior Flow was one of the strongest Flow performances of the night, and well-incorporated in the plot. 

Following Flow’s performance, the audience was introduced to a new character: Arielle (Paciencia Gunawardhane), the artist of a painting in the museum. Marcello noticed Arielle, who was present for the reunion, lurking around the museum as she admired her painting, which was beautifully painted. The talent of the Junior art crew and props crew were crucial to the production, especially due to the setting’s focus on art. Their attention to detail and ability to add life to the set, which included paintings, pillars, and other museum displays, truly brightened the show.

As Arielle talked about her art and expressed disdain about having no control over selling her work, Marcello hardly took her words into consideration. Instead, he decided to hold Arielle hostage in her own painting! Unbeknownst to Marcello, however, Penny had watched the whole scene unfold. Penny’s pleas to release Arielle were of no avail: Marcello coerced Penny into keeping his secret, threatening to trap her along with Arielle if she broke the news to anyone. Penny’s moral dilemma was captured in Alvarez’s poignant performance of “Breathe,” from the musical In The Heights. Alvarez captured the audience with her beautiful singing full of emotion, expressing her determination to rescue Arielle and her opposition to Marcello’s evil actions.

The audience was soon transported back to the members of the reunion, who were working to find the museum thieves. On the other side of the stage, Jordan received a phone call, which was answered by… Rose? Surprise! Jordan was the one who ordered Rose and Clover to steal the plaque. After having expressed disappointment yet amusement over Rose and Clover’s desperate call for help, Jordan hung up, and realized Emmett had been listening to her conversation all along. Jordan instructed Emmett to remain silent, and he responded with an “Ay, ay, captain”—a clear dig at Senior SING!.

As Emmett rejoined the group, their conversation was quickly disrupted by the entrance of hip-hop as security guards. Penny, Sloane, and Emmett all took mannequin pieces to hide themselves. Hip-hop proceeded to dance to “Wild Thoughts” in their chic, black-and-white outfits. The performance was elegant yet powerful, especially when paired with the precise flashing of the red and blue lights.

After Penny, Sloane, and Emmett safely remained hidden from security, Rose and Clover met with Jordan. While Jordan and Rose fought over who to blame for the flawed burglary operation, Clover wandered over to Arielle’s painting of dancing ballerinas, entranced by its lifelikeness. The ballerinas came to life in the form of modern’s performance, which was an addition that felt oddly placed in the story. Modern, along with Jordan, danced gracefully to Clover and Rose’s rendition of “Talking to the Moon.” Paired with the band’s melodic, somber tone, their performance incorporated many expressive hand gestures and a sense of longing, yet the singing was a bit tense.

One of the most heartwarming scenes of the show was shared between the two highschool sweethearts, when Grant confessed to Beverly his secret night job as a janitor. He had taken the night shift because he was unable to sleep with her snoring, but he didn’t have the heart to tell her. Much to Grant’s surprise, Beverly was touched by his thoughtfulness and his genuine love for being a janitor. 

The two lovebirds then began to reminisce about their history. Thus, with their transition into their duet performance of “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman, they began to reignite their old spark. Latin emerged onto the stage and. Though Ross and Wang shared undeniable chemistry onstage, there were a few lackluster moments during their musical performance. This was partly due to sound issues, as their mics were low, making it difficult to hear their vocals during key moments of the song. Moreover, the couple was separated as they sang from different ends of the stage. Only at the end of their performance did they come together to share an impassioned kiss. 

Elsewhere, Arielle was freed from her painting, and the cast members realized that Marcello has no respect for the art in the museum or the museum itself. Penny decided to fight back, and thus began a fight sequence to “Make a Man Out of You” from the Disney movie Mulan. This was a suitable song choice, but the lyrics were quite similar to the original song, suggesting a greater creative need. Grant’s ripping of the chrome pants to his main set of pants was definitely a highlight of this number, and it was also accompanied by a dig at Senior SING!: “Ooh! Hey Senior SING! Costumes, make this!” 

The plot continues: Marcello delivered a short musical parody of “I’m Just Ken,” in which he outlined his villainous plans: “Silly young fools you’re super done / Masterful plan has just begun.” However, Marcello ran onto a platform at the back of the stage and fell backwards with a strike of lightning sound effects. Milo’s moonwalk onto the platform added to the overall humor of the production and made a heavy plot incredibly funny. This point of the show marks Marcello’s supposed death, and the audience erupts into cheer.

The audience then sees the museum recovering from Marcello’s cruel rule, with Penny having taken over as director. As she reprised “What Was I Made For?”, still questioning her worth and potential, the audience was surprised by Marcello’s return, hilariously accompanied by a robot. As he criticized and mocked Penny, the two began to fight—leading to the highest point of the show: Penny stabbed Marcello. Then, she made her way back to her desk with a Wordle grid depicting the word “POWER” appearing behind her. The cast then came together for the Junior SING! spirit song: a lively rendition of the Jackson 5’s “Want You Back.”  

Overall, Junior SING! was a delightfully hilarious production. The cast proved their talent through both acting and singing, with Milo Smulansky stealing every scene he was present in. Most junior dance crews performed very strongly, though their integration seemed messy at times. This was likely due to the plot itself: although amusing, it felt underdeveloped and incomplete at times, largely due to a few unfinished storylines. Furthermore, viewers of Thursday night’s show were likely less than impressed due to a plethora of technical issues. Still, the gorgeous set design, humorous jokes, and melodious performances made Junior SING! a successful production overall—perhaps one worth mentioning in a museum.