For its final performance of the fall semester, Penn State's No Refund Theatre brings a YouTube sensation to the stage with “The Most Popular Girls in School.”
The play was based on the raunchy Barbie doll stop-motion series, first released on YouTube in 2012. Director Ella Bradner said she adapted the series as a play with her sister, a Penn State and NRT alumna, and she realized it would be perfect for the group to put on.
“During [the coronavirus pandemic,] my sister was sent home and she was involved with NRT,” Bradner (junior-secondary English education) said. “We fell in love with the show all over again, and kept saying ‘What if we made the show a play and put it on with NRT?’ So, that’s how the dream became a reality.”
“The Most Popular Girls in School” takes place in a high school and tells the story of a vicious feud between the cheerleading squad and a group of sisters named the Van Burens.
An “incident” involving the new girl in school, Deandra, causes a turf war to break out between the two sides to settle once and for all who deserves the title of "the most popular girls in school."
Student Jonathan Yourchak took on the role of Deandra, who rides the thin line between the two cliques and adds a vulgar sense of humor to the show.
“She’s just there to have a good time,” Yourchak (junior-secondary English education) said. “I watched the original videos and said ‘OK, so this is the character, but let me add a little bit of my own spice to it.’”
The play included plenty of typical high school movie tropes, such as having a French foreign exchange student, a shocking pregnancy scandal and a dramatic battle for prom queen.
At one point in the show, Deandra exclaims, “Do you guys talk about anything other than, like, revenge?”
The answer is no.
“The only way to describe it is chaos,” Bradner said.
From the beginning of the play, egotistical head cheerleader Mackenzie Zales has her heart set on wiping out the Van Burens. Gabby Kline, who plays the role of Mackenzie, said she enjoyed stepping into her shoes.
“I don’t really get to play characters that are mean to people,” Kline (junior-communication arts and sciences) said, “And so I really liked to do that because that’s not me in real life. It’s kind of fun to step out of my comfort zone and play someone who I usually wouldn’t.”
The casting process of “The Most Popular Girls in School” was no trouble at all, according to Bradner. Every actor brought their "A game" while auditioning for the play.
“The show is so utterly ridiculous, and that is what makes it so funny,” Bradner said, “This cast just took that and brought it to life. They are perfect for their roles.”
“The Most Popular Girls in School” runs from Dec. 1-3 in Forum 111, and tickets are free.
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