Jason Kenney’s Hot Boy Summer: The Musical, A Hilarious and Tragic Triumph


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As Hamlet’s immortal rhyme says, “The play is the thing / Where I will catch the king’s conscience.”

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Using the power of armed performance, in other words, the Great Dane hopes to catch a sign that King Claudius killed his father by showing him something similar on stage.

And one wonders, hard, what Premier Jason Kenney would think of the Grindstone Theater s savvy satire on where Alberta has been since his inner truck beeped to the podium on Victory Night, because now, a few years later, he is the lowest-poll of the country’s pandemic prime minister, on the verge of facing an internal revolution.

But instead of Kenney’s pissy Twitter-style pullout, the beautifully executed thing about Jason Kenney’s Hot Boy Summer: The Musical (which runs at least Nov. 21 at the St-Jean Campus) is that it’s the writers. Byron Martin and Simon Abbott who took a strange sort of highway. They make Kenney the hero, trapped between stabbing political opponents, fair weather friends, and just wanting to be loved. Thanks to the striking, yet also very adorable, high octane portrayal of Donovan Workun, we’re actually cheering on Kenney all the way through, which ostensibly makes the reality of our current political situation all the sadder, really.

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In this multiverse spree, it’s 1983 and Workun’s Kenney has just suspiciously won the title of president of the summer session student union at the University of Alberta, which has former president Rachel Notley (Stephanie Wolfe) steaming, sometimes even moaning on the floor and seeking revenge.

The fact that this all happens in a really, really well done, curse-laden song cycle with undertones of hair, West Side Story and even Jesus Christ Superstar needs to be remembered throughout. Try to snap your fingers while you maybe read?

Things are getting pretty hot in the UCπ fraternity house in Jason Kenney's Hot Boy Summer: The Musical.
Things are getting pretty hot in the UCπ fraternity house in Jason Kenney’s Hot Boy Summer: The Musical. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

Kenney is a member of the Upsilon Cappa Pi fraternity, with a dart board and poster of Margaret Thatcher (and a well-oiled shirtless cowboy) on the back wall. The king of UCπ’s personality is the popular blonde-afro jock Tyler Shandro, if not much like the real one, an eventual handsome Judas for the story played by perfect singer Mark Sinongco in Adidas tube socks.

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Tyra Banda also sees him as a rowdy Kaycee Madu and, briefly, a familiar-feeling NPD Jazz Nerd.

Claire Theobald needs a special nod here for her costumes, especially Kenney’s varsity jacket with her sparkling UCπ back, the slanted hat brothers and everything about the acid wash jeans and Campus party girl Tracy Allard’s Hawaiian shirt. Aloha!

Hilariously, the fallen Notley is deliberately going out at arm’s length with Justin Trudeau, the Dean’s son who is particularly insane. Kenney embezzled school funds for parties and away from her beloved theater club. “I’m sure you would have made a wonderful Othello,” said Wolfe’s Notley, waiting and definitely getting the “oh my god” laugh.

Malachi Wilkins, who plays both Justin and his dad dean, is by far the funniest and honestly most perfect performance here, his breathing, hesitant, articulate and yet ummming ride on top of a floating corps de ballet control. , and some of the biggest laughs come when he seems to forget whether he’s playing Justin or Bald Peter.

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Stephanie Wolfe as Rachel Notley and Malachi Wilkins as Justin Trudeau in Hot Boy Summer: The Musical by Jason Kenney.
Stephanie Wolfe as Rachel Notley and Malachi Wilkins as Justin Trudeau in Hot Boy Summer: The Musical by Jason Kenney. Photo by Fish Griwkowsky /Postmedia

But the heart of the play, honest and heartfelt, lies between Kenney, who tries against all odds to put on the best barrel rodeo party ever, and the monotonous Deena Hinshaw (Abby Vandenburghe), a library nerd. left behind whose songs about diseases and symptoms are pure Mary Poppins.

The two outcasts, the tension in their friendship will tighten your throat as cool kid Shandro has Kenney choose between their worlds, and the scene of Hinshaw explaining chemistry to Kenney is stunning.

“Wow, I didn’t even know the science was real! He proclaims happily as she breaks through as she explains how alcohol works.

Right at the end of the first act, a mono outbreak, thanks to Tracy’s trip to Hawaii, turns that ’80s college flick into a disaster flick – all the more ugly since Notley helped the infection spread during ‘a party to defeat your opponent. The next scene of Dean Trudeau forcing Kenney to shut down and cancel the rodeo has obvious parallels in reality, and as everyone on stage starts to cough and get sicker, you really notice how insane it all is. – both musical and reality, and the fact we look at it as a comedy.

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I’ve seen many pieces in the rooms – in Hamlet, a Thor movie, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Game of Thrones. But never has a play so close to reality, the outer play – the political theater we live in – full of weak performances, bad actors and terrible dramas, and of course not really a play at all.

And that’s essentially why Hot Boy Summer: The Musical – with incredibly catchy songs and expert improvisations on forgotten lines – is such a gigantic success. It shows us how full of humanity the last 19 months should have been, all the while making us hesitate to step out of the theater at the end, where much of the humor almost curled up and rotten.

REVIEW

Jason Kenney’s Hot Boy Summer: The Musical

Or Auditorium (Rm 1-08) at Campus St-Jean, 8406 91 St.

When Nov 10-21 at 7 p.m., Nov 14 and 21 at 2:30 p.m. (all sold out); streaming by Monday, November 22, details to be determined

Tickets $ 30 (sold out) at grindstonetheatre.ca

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