So last night, I was at the Parkside Lounge on Houston Street. I was there due to a miscommunication, as I was told a show I’d been invited to was last night when it will, in fact, be Saturday night. All I know is, I got there, said I was the +1 of my friend, they told me that that person wasn’t on the list, so maybe she cancelled? But they let me in anyhow, which was very nice of them, and eventually, after some confused text message exchanges, we worked out that I was there on the wrong night.
But what the heck, I was already sitting down with a beer, so I decided to see the show that was on last night.
Pop Punk High is a comedy musical about the pop punk movement of the early 2000s. Let us pause and boggle at the notion that something that takes place in 2003 is a nostalgia piece. But it totally is.
The play is coauthored by Ben Lapidus, who also stars as Derek, the high school loser who is desperate for the attentions of the prettiest girl in school, Amanda, who barely knows he’s alive. It’s pretty much the standard high school story, the only thing that’s different is the soundtrack…..
Derek — who can’t skate, can’t shred on the guitar, and has a small penis (he mentions all three a lot) — doesn’t know what to do. Amanda is dating Skeet, the coolest kid in school, whose band, the Cumsluts, always wins Battle of the Bands, and Skeet also is the best skater around. On top of that, Derek’s best friend Tib is totally in love with Skeet. So you’ve got two unrequited romances.
However, Derek’s salvation comes from the ghost/genie of Avril Lavigne, who was murdered by a record executive and replaced with a duplicate. Avril can grant Derek three wishes, and so he asks for mad skateboarding skillz, the ability to shred, and a giant penis (the size of said penis increases with each mention).
First he does the skateboarding thing, and he humiliates Skeet. Before that, though, is the best part: Amanda plays a song for Skeet and says she wants to enter Battle of the Bands. Skeet dismisses this notion as absurd, as she’s the Cumsluts’ roadie, and then after Derek and Skeet have their skate-off, Amanda herself then does a move that makes them both look like idiots.
Derek is confused at the fact that his becoming a skate god hasn’t had Amanda falling at his feet. (“It’s almost like she has a life completely separate from my wants and desires,” he laments. In an incredibly funny show, this line had me laughing the hardest.) He asks Avril for his second wish, and now he can shred. He enters Battle of the Bands — as does Amanda, to Skeet’s chagrin.
The Cumsluts perform their song, and then Derek and Tib do theirs — entitled, of course, “I Don’t Give a Fuck” — and it blows everyone away so much that they’re awarded the victory before any other band performs. This, to say the least, pisses Amanda off — but before anything else can happen, Derek’s stepfather loses it. Turns out he’s the record executive who killed Avril because he can’t stand pop punk. He threatens everyone, but then Derek asks for his final wish: a fifteen-foot penis, which he then uses to knock his stepfather out and save the day.
Grateful, Avril grants a fourth wish, and Derek wishes that pop punk would stop being mean and everyone was just cool to each other. Skeet becomes friendlier, admits he likes taking it up the ass, and starts dating Tib. Derek apologizes to Amanda for not giving her the chance to perform and she says he can watch her band rehearse if he wants. And everyone lives happily ever after.
You gotta love a play that has the ghost/genie of Avril Lavigne redeemed by a fifteen-foot dick. Not to mention songs with titles like “My Life Sucks” and “Before Pop Punk Got So Mean” (the first line of which is, “why does everyone have to be such a dick?”). The performances are superb. Standouts include Patrick Sweeney as Skeet, who is the perfect early-21st-century young dickweed, Amanda Centeno’s earnestly lustful performance as Tib (and she’s got a phenomenal signing voice, too, which the play doesn’t make nearly enough use of), and especially Kelly Krauter, who did a letter-perfect Avril Lavigne.
The script by Lapidus and Anderson Cook is hilariously funny, the music is exactly what it should be, and the show’s just a lot of fun.
It’s playing at the Parkside Lounge on Houston Street in Manhattan every Thursday to the end of November (Thanksgiving night excepted). You can get tickets at the Pop Punk High web site, and I strongly recommend it. The show was tremendous fun (and a nice fun experience on the day between two black-belt promotion sessions……)
So go check it out!