Air Guitar High is a Smash Hit

By Mara Shapiro

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Loud rock music, glowsticks, and kids dressed like the actors from Dazed and Confused? That’s what Niles West Theatre’s Air Guitar High looked like. The play was about two high school kids, Lindy, played by junior Quinn Lawson-Hall, and Cable, played by senior Leah Hummel, and their documentary about an air guitar competition in which many of their classmates are participating in. That’s right, an air guitar competition, where people from all over rock out in front of hundreds of people with nothing but their hands as guitars. Lindy and Cable find their participating classmates and various others who have some part in the competition and proceed to interview them one by one leading up to the big event.

The first interview was the young school reporter named The Voice, played by freshman Daniel Bedoya. The Voice is set to cover the competition, and boy, does he take his job seriously. As a reporter myself, I found The Voice’s eagerness endearing and funny. He repeatedly tries to call the town of Scrug, Iowa (where the play takes place), a village in that he wants to be known as the Voice of a Village. Unfortunately for The Voice, he is always corrected by people telling him that Scrug is a town and his editor keeps reminding him to get back to doing grunt work. The Voice’s interview is mostly about the coverage of the competition.

Though I am unsure of the order of the interviews, another  was that of participant Hops who looks a little bit like Willy Wonka, played by senior Aleks Krapivkin and his best friend Jericho, played by junior Lauren Langer. While Hops is interviewed, he primps and reads a girly magazine. Hops is gay. You would think that having a gay character would be controversial, but the way Krapivkin portrayed him was tasteful and in a way reminded me of Kurt from Glee. Jericho, on the other hand, is the complete opposite from her happy-go-lucky best friend. She has the craziest hairdo, detests men, likes to stab people with pencils, and idealizes famed rockers Joan Jett and Joanie Mitchel because “all good things start with a J.” Jericho also finds the air guitar competition appalling and wants no part in it. Hops manages to convince her with the best form of persuasion, crying and begging because he doesn’t want to do it alone.

Lindy and Cable continue with their interviewing with the next participant in the competition, Skid, played by junior Anahita Karimi. Lindy and Cable interview her while she is in her house studying. Skid complains about her workload and discusses the competition while inhaling a multitude of pills. Lindy questions her about the pills to which she emphatically tells him to never do Lithium. I thought that joke was very funny and cute. The interview is interrupted twice by Skid’s mother’s screaming, which can only be described as a dying gorilla. The interview then ends with Skid taking Lithium pills and then it’s off to the next interview.

While all this interviewing is going on on stage, the interviews are also projected on screens attached to the set that are getting live feed from Lindy and Cable’s camera. Once in awhile, it seemed that the feed was having difficulty being transferred, but overall it was a cool effect to see the actors on screen simultaneously.

Another interview done is of participant Rev, played by junior Steven Czajkowski. Rev’s getup was the funniest of all. He had the grunge jacket, messy hair,  and far out voice. He can only be compared to Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Rev loves guitar, has a passion for it in fact, and is also the oldest senior at the high school because he has been held back multiple times. Cable has kind of an attraction to the rocker, who is completely opposite of her ex, Prescott Pierce the second. Prescott, played by junior Aaron Ruderman, is the pretentious, egotistical type of person that you wouldn’t expect to play guitar, let alone to have dated laid back Cable. In Prescott’s interview, he is unsure if he wants to compete in the air guitar event, claiming it’s not like playing the real guitar. Cable calls him scared and they continually bicker, showing that their breakup didn’t end in the best of ways.

The interview ends, leading to Flip, played by sophomore Aria Caldwell. Flip has a lot on her plate. She is involved in many activities, and is constantly checking her phone in case “something pops up.” She says that she wanted to try something new, which is why she signed up for the competition. The interview ends, with Flip being the last of the actual participants interviewed. Now it’s on to the people behind the scenes.

Rogue, played by sophomore Alex Wood, is the owner of a store similar to Gamestop. He takes video gaming seriously, and mocks “the haters” who say that games are a waste of time. He is in charge of the rules of the competition and also chooses the songs for the event. Conveniently, he chooses the songs from Guitar Hero, which before he said that the popular game was his source I thought to myself that I knew some of the songs were from that game. Lindy and Cable also interviewed Stellar, played by junior Sithara Vincent, who is the drill sergeant choreographer, Lux, played by junior Czarmaine Landicho, the stylist to the competitors, and lastly Marvel, played by junior Katie Buckley, the wardrobe director who reminds me of Edna Mode for The Incredibles in that she has an obsession with comic book heroes and bedecks all the competitors in superhero capes. The interviews are now over and the competition is set to begin.

The audience members were all given glowsticks to wave during the performances, which really made it feel like a concert in the Black Box Theatre what with all the screaming and rock music. One by one the competitors went on stage and rocked out. Flip it should be mentioned, decided to drop out and Jericho filled in with her air guitar rendition of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” As the contestants showed the audience their stuff, other actors went on the bleachers behind the audience screaming out encouragements. I’ll admit I jumped the first time someone popped up behind me, but I thought it was a nice touch. Finally, Rev is crowned the winner, though all the contestants rocked their air guitars nicely. Also, Prescott and Cable get back together and Lindy and Cable make a conclusion to their documentary.

Overall, the play was very loud and exciting. It was nice to hear songs from Boston, Billy Idol, and Joan Jett that we never hear on popular radio stations such as B96 and Kiss FM. The jokes were pretty funny, such as when Lindy said, “way to get the lead out” as Jericho tried to stab him with a pencil.  The monitors with the live feed and the glowsticks gave a concert-like feel, and the hand painted set with pictures of bands such as Aerosmith and Skid Row shown. It was also cool to see people rock air guitars in a competition, which it turns out is a real competition. The only thing that could’ve been improved in the play was that the songs could have been played a little bit longer. I felt that they were sometimes cut off too soon, but I guess they had to be so that the play didn’t go on forever.

The play impressed others as well.

“It was the best Niles West Theatre show I’ve seen this year,” sophomore Jack Thornton says.

Sophomore Viki Tomic agrees.

“It was fantastic,” Tomic says.

Great job to Niles West Theatre’s cast and crew and theatre director Andrew Sinclair. As usual, the play definitely did not disappoint. I can’t wait for the next play, The King and I.