Capital Fringe Review: ‘HeHEE! or “What It’s Not Glee?” by Jessica Vaughan

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HeHEE! or “What It’s Not Glee? is a production of The Comedy Academy, Inc., which is a non-profit that teaches middle and high school and college students to write sketch comedy.

I know, watching teenage sketch comedy could have been pretty awkward if they weren’t funny, but there’s no need to worry with this show.  Harry Bagdasian who both directed and co-wrote it did a fantastic job at the helm. His co-writer (and one of the performers) is Liam Brennan, who just graduated from high school. He has participated in The Comedy Academy since 8th grade, and it’s just not fair that someone could be so good at this already.  The name is apt because the play echoes Glee as a rag tag group of kids who get assigned detention and the project of putting on a comedy show.  The part that is different from Glee is the fact that it’s comedy and not music.

The cast of HeHEE! Or “What? It’s not Glee?”

There is the baseball player who can’t read (Conor Brennan) and the nerd who believes everything is annoying because it’s all completely illogical (Peter Walderhaug). Miriam Finley, Maura Russell, Anne Chernikoff, Erica Shortall, and Jeffrey Hacker make up the rest of the amusing band of goths, nerds, jocks and etc. Supporting them is “Snicker” (Jeffrey Rosen), the teacher with a heart, Princial Doyche (Austen Villemez), whose name can be pronounced in a number of different ways, and an absolute witch of an English teacher (Sara Mozersky).   Fortunately, also unlike Glee, each character gets their moment in the spotlight. The action alternates between comedy sketches and the evolving relationships between characters.  Their concerns include the usual high school complaints, but they avoid falling into angst by poking good fun at problems like budget cuts, hallway rules, and AP tests.

My favorite sketch involved the AP superhero who makes every class practical, including AP Vocational Dance, for which you need a pole.  It makes frightening sense when you think about it. Note that they do drop a couple of F-bombs and other swear words in the performance, but it’s not over the top. The scenes outside the sketches also work. The students are sympathetic and the conflicts are real and nuanced.  One sums up all of adolesence well, I think, when he says that he would rather fail at the things he chooses to do than succeed at what he’s been made to do.

Make no mistake, this is a high school production and the actors are students themselves. It was wonderful to see a clan of self-declared outcasts find a home at Fringe. They are not polished, but they do shine. Any awkward scene changes or fumbled dialogue is smoothed over in sheer enthusiasm. When one line got a big laugh, one actor forgot himself and looked over the audience with a grin, delighted by our delight. For anyone who has ever lived through high school, you will see yourself in at least one of these characters, or the actors who play them, and smile.
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One Response to Capital Fringe Review: ‘HeHEE! or “What It’s Not Glee?” by Jessica Vaughan

  1. Robbie McEwen July 16, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    LOVED THIS SHOW!!! Saw it last night at the Studio Theater. Excellent work by young performers and to think it’s written by someone who is only 18 years old!! Insightful, funny, clever, sharp — all describe this terrific show.