Young, Sexy, and Talented
nytheatre.com review by Dan Asher
August 15, 2004
Are you Young, Sexy, and, Talented? If so, you need not apply to the New Rochelle Academy of Dramatic Excellence, the fictional drama school at the center of the play of the same name, Swimtrun Productions' entry at this year's FringeNYC. You see, these three winning characteristics that historically have been needed if an actor or actress dreams of stardom will not necessarily guarantee you enrollment to theis school. For the only true requirement is ability—the ability, that is, to come up with the $166,000 tuition. Blind ambition and a warped sense of self, while not required, are common among all the students. And, if you don’t measure up to the others in terms of horrifically low self esteem? No worries. The instructor will cultivate and nurture it for you.
The tuition requirement has effectively eliminated the 97 percent of the 84 percent of the 2,000 people who were “vigorously screened and auditioned” three years ago for the drama school’s inaugural class. That class is having its graduation/ industry showcase this evening (in Act Two; the first act takes place at the final rehearsal, the evening before). Ah…the industry showcase. That magical evening when the students choose that perfect scene. The one that shows off their range, the one that requires a costume that shows enough skin, and most importantly a scene partner who won’t steal any thunder or get in the way... literally.
It’s the also the chance for founder/curator/master teacher of the school, Simon Brook (Robin Bloodworth), to show off his students' final work to the industry guests, all the while scheming to drum up some more business. He has even created an evaluation sheet so that the agents can distinguish between the students they will sign right away, or the ones they wait a few days and then decide to sign. (Good stuff, huh?)
All this wonderful delusion feeds this zany send-up of the business of acting schools and their inhabitants. Writer/director Richard Cavan has accurately, truthfully, hilariously, and painfully captured the neuroses and cutthroat atmosphere of acting schools. There is one sequence where the students perform the standard warm-up exercises. If you’ve ever attended an acting school, be prepared to laugh hysterically. The entire cast does a great job, embodying the array of students found in these places. I laughed out loud for the majority of the show, and when I wasn’t laughing I was remembering when I attended such a school, all the while thinking... “I remember that guy,” and also asking myself “Was I that nutty too?” Kudos to the entire company.