Waa-Mu Review: ‘Beyond Belief’: Below Expectations
Now more than ever, we could use a hero: someone to rescue us from the terrors of global conflict, the failures of governmental powers, and the occupation of Cahn Auditorium by a militia of musical theater fanatics. Armed with faulty microphone packs and a (highly visible) harness system the likes of which has never been seen, these vagabonds held an audience hostage for two and a half hours, in what can only be described as the most harmonized, well-choreographed detainment ever.
“Beyond Belief,” the 86th Annual Waa-Mu show, comes at a time when the world is engulfed in flames of chaos, and the fire department doesn’t seem to be picking up the phone. So we’ve decided to squirt a little bit of our own lighter fluid on the global bonfire by writing this scathing review for the student-run musical because that went so well last time. So let this be a warning: if you’re proud of the hard work that students have put into this massive theatrical endeavor, stop reading because it’s gonna get mean. Sure, the show aims to demonstrate just how extraordinary we all are as individuals, but the truth is you didn’t get into that a Cappella group you auditioned for, so there goes that feel-good thought.
This year’s Waa-Mu show blurs the line between reality and imagination in what can only be described as a combination of The Avengers and High School Musical, with a drop of My Sister’s Keeper. This reviewer had to blur his senses with a combination of wine, vodka and NyQuil to make it through this catastrophic crossover. It’s no surprise that “Beyond Belief” is set to close next week after a humiliating two-week run.
The story is primarily set in a high school, or at least that’s what the writers of the show were going for, despite no references to smoking low-grade marijuana or an endless supply of sexual tension. In an attempt to be all-inclusive, the ensemble featured a wide-range of high school tropes, from the popular cheerleaders to the overall-wearing farmer kid, because we all had one of those. The only trope that seemed to be lacking was “the theater kid,” probably because they would just steal all the attention for themselves. In all fairness, the members of last year’s ensemble were tasked with portraying trees and bathroom stalls, so it’s an improvement in that regard.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the show was watching a bunch of theater nerds singing about sports (if only I could watch Bob Costas sing Gilbert and Sullivan). It’s hard not to admire the sheer effort and focus the cast put into pretending that they cared about touchdowns. Fortunately, the director managed to find enough tall, male theater folks to create a fictional football team, because my self-confidence really needed to see some athletic-looking men who can also sing and dance.
After seeing the show, it is clear that this is the year Waa-Mu got woke as hell. A single dad kisses his son. One character dabs. Another says “lit”. There’s a Pitbull shoutout. What’s that? The main bully of the show goes to prom with the mascot? And they’re both MEN? Woah. Just when you thought the show couldn’t out-woke last year’s depiction of the Irish struggle, Waa-Mu caught you slipping.
Despite being up to date with the hottest millennial trends, the show didn’t go beyond my belief that at age 86, it’s time for Waa-Mu to retire and pick up a hobby like knitting or forgetting people’s names or some shit. At its old age, the show is starting to show holes. For starters, the protagonist wants to be a writer in the show. Let’s work this out: the character, played by an actor, wants to be a writer. There is simply no money in any of that. Second of all, it would seem that everyone who donated to the show’s Catalyzer fundraiser got their own plotline. And what’s with all the references to bees? We get it, the school’s mascot is a hornet, but tone it down with the “buzz” and “sting” wordplay.
In Waa-Mu’s defense, there weren’t any Nazis or references to slaughtering Native Americans, so in that regard, the show was a raging success. Ok, honestly, the music was really good. But realistically, having 100 theater majors working together is a guaranteed shipwreck. At the same time, the show ends with a child dying, so it’s difficult to say anything too malicious about the show. Still, not as good as Hamilton.