By Malani Fenner-Smith, Heritage High School
Woosh! Pow! Bang! While tackling the subjects of originality, trust, and truth, Lightridge put on a “marvelous” production of “Marvel Spotlight Plays.” Inspired by the Marvel Comics, the plays were written by Karen Zacarias, Christian Borle, and Masi Asare. The production featured three immersive and unique acts, accentuating superheroes within modern-day times.
Commencing with “Squirrel Girl Goes to College,” the optimistic and chipper Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl (Kat Bixler), navigated through a new era of self-discovery and friendship as she battled against the fear of rejection because of her mutant traits. With the help of her friends, Tomas Lara-Perez (Jude Cabral) and Nancy Whitehead (Toni Ikhile), she learned to make deep connections and chose to defy her doubts in order to slay villains and protect those close to her heart. Following the next segment, in the “Mirror of Most Value”, Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Lily Selvaraj), a visionary fanfiction writer, tried to write her masked superhero identity in an effective light in hopes to gain more views and recognition. However, as her determination for her writing’s success succumbed to an obsession, she began to lose the importance of her life around her, as well as staying true to herself. Finally, the last act, “Hammered,” featured the brotherhood between the mighty Thor (Tayori Snipe) and the mischievous Loki (Athan Agostinho), both different in ways that made them grow to despise one another. However, as their combative tactics began to collide, they discovered that they might’ve admired each other more than they thought.
With the performance serving as Lightridge’s first Cappies show, the cast and crew put in an exceptional and evident amount of work, creating a lively and engaging atmosphere. Whether it was the perfectly timed sound effects (Liam Gilmore, Jaden Barger, and Lana Francisco) to signal the end of an insightful school day, or Thor (Tayori Snipe) tipsily attempting to fight the graceful warrior Sif (Isabella Schumacher), each scene was executed with wondrous creative decisions.
An actor that commanded the stage with booming presence and impressive vocal acting was Tayori Snipe (Thor/Jock/Doctor Doom). Snipe’s gestures, physicality, and interactions with other cast members were effortless and amusing, especially alongside Athan Agostinho (Loki/Comic Book Geek/Gabe Hillman). The comedic duo flowed through lines as if it were thoughtless and easygoing conversation outside the stage, no matter the role. Agostinho, in particular, showed the magic behind multi character casting, exemplifying transitions between roles that were so smooth, it was hard to recognize it was the same actor for each character played.
To aid the empowering Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl (Kat Bixler), the Squirrel Chorus (Diana Couey, Lily Cascio, Isabella Schumacher, Lily Selvaraj, Callie Stapleton, Prisha Woodcock) upraised the storytelling with their unanimous outbursts and interpretations of flashbacks to represent the past of others’ personas. Each member made themselves prominent with their emotes and “nutty” personalities.
Additionally, the fantastical realms were made real with the added costumes (Bailey Mitchell, Izzy Curico, Shelley Carter). With incredible attention to detail and noticeable consideration, each costume very vividly paired with its dweller. The characterization was enhanced and allowed the performers to be made distinct amongst each other. Along with the costumes, the special choice of having projections (Christopher Duong and Aiden Ortiz) to model a scene presented significant imagery and served as an authentic technical element.
With demonstrations of character commitment, teamwork, and notable design, Lightridge’s production of “Marvel Spotlight Plays” gave “light” to positive thematic and comical shine.
[This review of the Jan. 22 performance of Marvel Spotlight Plays at Lightridge High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]