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It’s Alright, ‘Cause It’s BAYSIDE! THE MUSICAL! (Theatre Review)

I gave up years ago feeling 90s nostalgia was way too early for me to handle.

I accept that the 90s are the new 70s, if you’re Gen X.

For children of the 90s, Saved by the Bell was our Land of the Lost.

And although, we never really got an Off-Broadway edition of the Land of the Lost, we had to settle for a big-budget Hollywood comedy that only slightly resembled it (I’m not bitter, I swear).

Children of the 90s, rejoice!  Your Saved by the Bell has made its way to the history Theatre 80 St. Marks (home of the first ever staged performance by Frank Sinatra, amongst other things).

Bayside! The Musical!, now playing through November, is subtitled a “Parody” of the beloved Saturday morning sitcom from NBC.

Die hard fans with no sense of humor are recommended to stand clear of it.

I’ll admit I knew my fair share about the Bayside High gang going into the show, but that shouldn’t stop anyone with little to no knowledge of the original series to check this one out.  There’s enough general pop-culture lampooning to entertainment anyone.  The show owes a bit to Avenue Q,  Book of Mormon and Silence! for its approach.

That said, every performance in Bayside! is an extreme, self-aware parody of the characters (and their often mundane situations) from the entire series.  From key story-lines (yes, Jessie Spano pops caffeine pills) to the absurd story lines (save the duck, anyone?) to even the College Years experiment.  It’s all there for the lampooning.

The cast gives it their all, and they’re clearly having a blast racing through the very constricting set pieces (small stage) at maximum energy.  April Kidwell, who also played Elizabeth Berkley in the Off Broadway Showgirls! The Musical! is Jessie, and naturally she’s an off-the-hook scene stealer.

Kuddos to everyone in the cast for nailing their parodies, but Amanda Nicholas and Seth Blum are especially fun to watch.

Playing multiple characters, genders and species, their frantic costume changes are hysterical.

The musical does go for deep, dark parody that I don’t think some audience members during the performance I was at was totally on the same page with.

Personally, I found the interpretive dance sequence in which Jessie goes from butterfly to Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs to be highbrow brilliant.  My laughter was stopped dead by some stone faced girls that were not quite into their favorite childhood television character thrown under the tracks.

Be warned.

Slater realizes he’s gay, Lisa realizes she’s black and Screech realizes he can see everyone’s future, and it ain’t pretty.

This is the Saved by the Bell we’ve been waiting for.

BAYSIDE!
THE MUSICAL!
Now playing at
Theatre 80
New York City
Thurs, Fri, Sat in SEPT/NOV
Fri, Sat in OCT

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