new musicals inc · Ages 10+ · United States of America

family friendly world premiere
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Review by anonymous

June 15, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

The music, the lyrics, the performances, the staging (especially the laser lock system) were all fantastic! The application of humor to a serious issue was expertly accomplished. The clever lines and catchy songs will stay with me for weeks! I also really appreciated the relative simplicity of the story. Yes, there is a double-cross, and then a double-double cross, but they were easy to follow and advanced the plot rather than over-complicating it. With such a large ensemble, keeping the story simple is key. Also, while the entire cast was fabulous, Jordan and Allie in particular shone like true stars.

What I didn't like

Some of the songs ran a little long, I’m thinking in particular of the initial song with the folks from the robotics academy, but the hilarious lyrics made the length okay. We watch Kevin’s journey, and it’s great to watch as he “blooms,” but I’m not sure why he starts off where he does in terms of his misanthropy. He has only just started in this new school, but has already written everyone off without having tried to meet anyone who might be sympathetic. That’s a pretty cynical starting point for a kid, so it feels like there needs to be a reason.

My overall impression

“The Bully Problem” is absolutely delightful and engaging from start to finish. It’s also funny as all get out! Afterwards a group of us were all quoting our favorite lines at one another, still laughing until our faces and sides hurt. But what really makes this show a winner is the sense of hope and empowerment that it embodies. Protagonist Kevin’s journey becomes the audience’s journey, too, as we see how we can all rise up and “be our own [metaphorical] bodyguards.” In an era when school bullying can literally lead to death, and #itgetsbetter is a battle cry, “The Bully Problem” treats a genuinely serious social issue with compassion, humanity, joy, and a healthy dose of humor. The music and songs are catchy and utterably singable and the lyrics adeptly (and adroitly) capture the emotional urgency that imbues everything in junior high. “Offbalance” is particularly charming and sweet but awkward. “Coming Out of the Basement” is a rallying teen anthem. Appropriate for kids and kids-at-heart alike, this is a show that should not be missed!

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