Unabashed energy, solid tech, vocal dexterity make Briar Woods’ production of original musical a joy


Annick Mooradian, Alex Berke, and Brooke Glatz (Chelsea Lindsey)

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Emma Paquette, a student at McLean High School , reviews “Live It Up” performed by Briar Woods High  School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

Following your dreams is not for the faint of heart. It takes bravery to face the harsh realities of the world, determination to defy them, and love to keep you from faltering. Yet, what is worth sacrificing to attain that one moment in the spotlight? Your dignity? Your pride? Even true love? Briar Woods answered in the negative to all these questions in their heartwarming performance of Live it Up! The Musical.

Live it Up! The Musical was written by former student Gregory Mooradian, with this production being its world premiere. The musical tells the story of Liam, a lowly janitor at the Darcy Theatre who dreams of catching his break on the big stage of Broadway. When he meets Ava, the new all-business employee, Liam’s singular drive inspires her to turn back to a musical past she had left behind. But success comes with a cost, and the couple will have to face opposition from every side before they can make it to the top.

Liam (Brandon Diaz) displayed unbelievable vocal talent, his crooning voice soaring through his plethora of solos with marked ease, while still reflecting his easygoing persona. He also established himself as a talented piano player, combining his dulcet vibrato with the grace of the instrument in “Live It Up (Introduction)”. Despite some issues in romantic chemistry, Ava’s (Brittany Howard) sweet tone meshed well with Diaz, creating a beautiful vocal blend in their gorgeous harmonies.

Comedy was interspersed through much of this show with unbelievable energy and dedication by the performers. Janice (Maggie Gough) and Rodrigo (Jonathan Merlino), the harried and hassled assistants of the terrifying Maxine (Annick Mooradian), fully committed themselves to their ridiculous characterization with total enthusiasm. The two truly lit up the show with their strong character choices and amusing dynamic. At the senior home where Liam works, the sassy and spirited old people ironically brought life to the stage with their masterful comedic timing and amusing group chemistry. They particularly shone during their riotous number “Don’t Give Up Now”, completely losing themselves in the ridiculousness called for from them.

The Tech was extremely solid, fulfilling its purpose masterfully and adding to the dynamic and mood of the show. Lights succeeded in distinguishing different areas through spotlights and also used bright colors to set the scene. Sound had few noticeable issues and ran smoothly throughout the show. Stage crew was silent and purposeful; although some transitions took a few beats too long, they looked practiced and professional onstage.

Following your dream may be a difficult road to travel, but it’s the surest way to reach any sort of happiness in life. All it takes is a lot of hard work, some support from dedicated friends, and a dash of luck to make it. Briar Woods left all aspiring performers with hope from their entertaining production of Live It Up! The Musical.

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