The Cast surrounds Ms. Cox and Ms. Linda for quick notes about their run through.
The Cast surrounds Ms. Cox and Ms. Linda for quick notes about their run through.

‘Like Me’ brings reality and song to teenage life

Texting, heartbreak, high school, college, fabulous acting… all combine to create the production of Like Me (An original collection dedicated to the teenage girl) at Brady Center stage.

This musical was unlike many others that Academy has seen in a few years. Not only was it an original play written and directed by Academy’s very own drama teacher Ms. Melissa Cox, but the style of the play was also new.  Like Me was vignette style where each scene is like its own little play.

For example Act 1, Scene 1: “All the Single Ladies?” is as scene about four friends who have just begun high school. They all want to stay close with each other and not end up like other groups that split up and never talk to one another again. Audrey (Sofia Varon) asks her fellow friends to make a pact saying they will go to homecoming as a group of single ladies. Just so happens that Ella (Rebecca Parrillo) already has plans for homecoming. Much bickering among the friends result in “How Lovely to Be A Woman,” a song from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. The girls finally agreed that they’d stay friends no matter what becomes of their boy dramas.

Another example takes a completely different spin on the words “best friends”. Act 1, Scene 3: “A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Best Friends…” This scene follows the story of two best friends Jules (Lexi Nieto) and Leigh (Ashlyn Bradshaw) go through hardships in their friendship. Jules creates her first ever page on Facebook and adds Leigh as her first friend. They both promise never to become like Bree (Effie Blackshear), but Jules starts to notice that her new best friend rarely talks to her anymore.

In the meantime Leigh has become Bree’s friend because they are both on the track team. Bree makes comments about how Jules is always so weird and that she seems like such a freak. Instead of taking her best friend’s side and defending Jules, Leigh agrees with Bree. Jules decides to call her “best friend” just to find out that she has been replaced by this Bree girl.

As the scene progresses, Leigh cuts off all ties with Jules by telling her that they are no longer best friends. Leigh starts acting all clingy to Bree, and Bree finds yet someone else to call her best friend. Both Leigh and Jules sing “My Own Best Friend” from Chicago, which sets up the irony that they no longer are friends. Jules becomes devastated by this action and defriends Leigh from her Facebook life. Leigh soon finds out just exactly how badly she has damaged her friendship with her true best friend.

Each of these unique scenes are examples from Act 1, which takes place before the intermission. Each vignette scene starts with a beginning, waltzes through the middle, and finishes with an ending song. All scenes bring a different song from different musicals, ranging from Wicked to Avenue Q.

While those scenes satirize friendship, scenes on Act 2 focus on the stereotypical high school food chain from parents who select colleges and degrees they desire for their teens to the reality of life after college. For those teens who have conflicts over college choices or degrees, the second scene in Act 2 –  “What’s in a Degree?” –  seems like deja vu. Jemma (Emilie Ulbricht) and Mom (Gabriela Henderson) open Jemma’s acceptance letter from UCF.  When her mother reacts with excitement over Jemma’s future studying engineering at UCF, Jemma’s happiness shatters to the ground. She realizes that her mother and she have two completely separate ideas of what major she will study. Jemma wants to pursue a degree in photography and tells her mother that she wants to choose her own major. This conflict segues into a rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl, ending with mother and daughter reaching a compromise.

This musical brought their characters to life with facial expressions and believable characterizations. Arlyn Barlaan, Meghan Wallace, Amanda Bell, and Valerie Ely joined actors in previous scenes to close the show with one final song – “Gold” from Camille Claudel, which summarized the overall themes in the show.

With a successful opening in the fall, the bar is set quite high for next semester’s production, which will be announced at the beginning of January.

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‘Like Me’ brings reality and song to teenage life