American Star at the Theater for the New City

The 'American Star' gang belts out a Jersey Shore number.

I had the privilege of being invited to the play “American Star” which was written and directed by the highly acclaimed and truly insightful William “Electric” Black. This play is a critical analysis of everything that’s wrong with the new ‘American Dream’ as told through the experience of teenager fighting for her dream.

We’re met with Stacey star, played by the ever talented Alexa Criscitello, right at the beginning. Stacey is a teenager in the midst of SAT season who knows the books aren’t her ticket to success. She’s eager to chase her dream by auditioning for the American Star singing competition at the local convention center. Her traditional adoptive mother, is not too thrilled by this idea, and tells her to get her SAT scores up like her arch nemisis, the popular, smart and unapologetically bitchy Kelly Dumbrowski who is also auditioning for the competition. Determined to get there despite her father’s inability to drive her down to the convention center, she turns to hitch-hiking, where she meets some real characters.

First there’s LLMJ (Long Live Michael Jackson) a Michael Jackson impersonator trying to keep the memory of the pop great alive. Then there’s Occupy, a protestor on a path to fight the system and his posse with an attitude to match. He’s Stacey’s only hope to get to the convention center, as he offers to drive her in his bus, but he’s against the very thing she’s trying to become. After Stacey, LLMJ and Occupy and his gang get too riled up on the street, the police come and wisk them off to jail. Stacey’s parents can’t afford to bail her out and her best friend can only offer a demented Barbie doll (a motif throughout the play) for comfort. Luckily, Stacey’s “fairy guard mother” gets her out of prison, after giving her advice of course. It turns out her “guard mother” has her own record label, and in the end Stacey achieves her dream of becoming a top star, but she becomes one with a conscious.

This play takes a real look at what it means to be a star in this modern age. Many of the musical numbers hit on the issues of society whether minor or profound. What’s truly genius is that writer and director William “Electric” Black chose the engaging lens of the teenager to analyze the what the ‘American Dream’ has become. “Well I have three daughters, so I hear this sort of thing all the time” says Black. “My daughter Skye just went through taking all of her exams.”

Kelly/Kim is teaching the kids why Kim is the name for her.
Kelly/Kim is teaching the kids why Kim is the name for her.

Some of the best numbers in the musical are “Kim” a guide on how to become a star, but more importantly, it’s an ode to everything that’s wrong with why Kim Kardashian is the most famous woman in the world. And the two numbers, “I-World” & “Occupy” which are sung by the character, ironically dubbed, Occupy. Director Black has a special purpose for this character. “Occupy is a lens into the truth behind what’s going on in corporate media” he says. Essentially, Occupy is the voice of reason, radical or otherwise, and he opens the audiences eyes to the truth behind the play.

Overall, “American Star” is a fun time. Intended for family audiences, there is some mild swearing (the harshest word is ‘bitch’) but nothing too crazy. A mother of two said “it’s not too bad.” Her 10 year old son, on the other hand was confused by my question on swearing. His response? “What? There is none…”

Running until April. 28th, I advise you get your butt down there before it’s too late. It’s a great story with a truly “Electric” cast. The energy feeds off the crowd, the singing is superb and it leaves you feeling happy. More so, it leaves you thinking, ‘whoa, what is really going on in the world?’

American Star, the Musical

at the
Theater For The New City
155 1st Avenue New York, NY 10003
212-254-1109
American Star Online

Tickets: $15, general admission
$12, students

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