A Marvel-ous Night with the Class of 2023

With a lightning-fast turnaround and a lack of fanfare that rivaled pre-pandemic levels, many upperclassmen were curious as to how the Class of 2023 would fare hosting their Junior Varieties with most underclassmen still lacking an understanding of the time-honored tradition. With the odds stacked against them, the Class of 2023 successfully hosted their Junior Varieties on March 11th and March 12th.

The show opened with a news report telling the audience that a villain was scheming to ruin Junior Varieties. The villain was revealed to be Loki (played by junior Peyton Lightbody). The heroes, Spider-Man (Mak O’Brien) and Iron Man (Saura Rathore) jump onto the stage before introducing Senior Yusra Tafraoui (who many students know from Gypsy back in December), who sang “Feeling Good” followed by performers Kiana Tse and Nashalyn Rubert who did a hip hop dance.

The heroes continued to search for clues in an attempt to find out which villain was plotting to ruin JV’s, while the Class of ‘23 President Kyle Lee confirmed reports of a villain lurking on school grounds, followed by Giselle Dessert, Saniah Charles, Taisha Balan, Soleil Mathurin and Erikah Macharia in an Afro-Caribbean dance mix. The group’s moves were met with incredibly loud cheers from the crowd.

Afterward, the heroes ran into Aquaman in a comedic exchange before introducing senior Nicholas Ramos, who sang “Die for You” by The Weeknd. Ramos stated that he was nervous because this was his first JV’s ever. While Ramos had previously gone up on the stage in Gypsy back in November, he still felt intimidated by the crowd. “During opening night, there were a lot of people… I almost blacked out for a moment, but after breathing in and out I performed the song easily.”

Senior Nick Ramos performs Die For You by The Weeknd.

After Ramos’ performance, the heroes discover that Loki had attempted to foil the show by replacing the microphones with faulty ones, followed by juniors Alyssa Littlejohn and Liam Bloom performing a piano and electric guitar rendition of “A Mad Russian’s Christmas.” Once the duo wrapped up their festive classical-rock blend, Loki came onto the stage, taunting the audience, and was promptly met with boos, followed by the heroes introducing senior Melissa Calixte, who performed an original rap.

Calixte had previously rapped at JV’s back in 2020, and she writes songs recreationally. “I already wrote a song to that beat, but I had to clean it up a little bit… I was just walking one day and I was thinking about the beat, and the words just came to me.”

Once Calixte wrapped up, a mysterious “creature” was spotted at McDonald’s stadium before sophomore Matthew Castano performed Chopin’s “Winter Wind.” Afterward, senior Roxane Leon went on stage to perform a contemporary dance to the tune of “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding. After Leon’s dance, the heroes accidentally ingested a poisoned cup of water, rushing off stage, allowing for an ensemble to perform the earworm “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto.

After Bruno, the last act before the intermission was the Jazzy Lunch Table’s improv jazz piece. Senior and Band Member Donald Ford stated that the act came naturally for the quartet, composed of Ford, Kaique Gomez, Joao Bereta and Finn Sedan. “It was really easy… everyone had a good understanding of music theory and knew how to connect their instruments to the other instruments… we all knew how to put it together and make music.” 

Above: Members of the Jazzy Lunch Table. Below: Senior Roxane Leon during her act. 

The quartet would often play in band teacher Erin Mazza’s room which is how they realized their musical chemistry. “When we would play in Mazza’s room, she told us that we sounded really professional, [even though] what we were playing was made up two seconds ago… once we learned we could do that, we decided to do it for JV’s.”

Once the Jazzy Lunch Table wrapped up Act 1, the step team started off Act 2 with a bang. Senior Captain Micaela Henry stated that she and Myrvline Gilles came up with the steps, with the performance this year also carrying oversteps from last year. “We had steps from generations before and steps from previous generations… we put our minds together.” The team was adorned with outfits featuring Killmonger and T’Challa from Black Panther to go with the Marvel theme.

After the step team finished their routine, the heroes realized that Thanos may be working with Loki to ruin the show. Even so, the show went on with junior Mindy Nguyen singing “I Don’t Wanna Be You Anymore” by Billie Eilish and dueting Christina Aguilera's “A Thousand Years” alongside freshman Kimberlee Smith. In between the songs, Alyssa Littlejohn played Schubert’s “Drei Klavierstücke D. 946 No. 1.”

Littlejohn’s third and final act of the night was alongside junior Michelle Dang, for “Stay” by Rihanna. Afterward, Smith returned to sing “Till Forever Falls Apart” by Ashe.
Before the final act, Loki tells the audience about how much they wanted to be on Broadway, but they were rejected. The heroes empathize with Loki and allow them to introduce the final act, which was junior Juliana Luong dancing to “Never Thought You’d Leave In Summer.”

In the final scene of the show, the heroes and Loki reconcile and Thanos, played by Principal Christopher Mastrangelo, makes his much-anticipated performance, reciting the motto MHS students know all too well: “You are not alone,” before snapping his fingers to end the show.

Class of 2023 Advisor Michael Lightbody stated that this year differed from other years in the fact that the auditions started much later than usual. “Normally, we probably would’ve started earlier in December, but I think that with the help of the joy block… that helped a lot.”

O’Brien’s performance as Spider-Man was instrumental to the plot of the show, however, the story behind it is quite simple. He stated that “everyone just told me that “you’re the awkward white man of the group, why don’t you play Spider-Man” and I said “okay!” O’Brien added that he had a lot of fun running around the auditorium. “I feel like it fits my personality… It was so fun to play.”

Class of ‘23 Treasurer Allison Yu admitted that there were a lot of rumors regarding the show’s quality. “I think we really pulled through… originally rehearsals and the process of getting the show going weren’t doing the best, but once everybody started putting in their time we really gained confidence.”

O’Brien added that “everything felt very jumbled at first… it was hard for us to get the hang of it because it was happening so fast.” Despite this, he feels that the show turned out to be “chaotic in the best way possible.”

O’Brien said that the group discussed postponing JV’s in order to help with the initial confusion and difficulties with rehearsals, but decided against it for the sake of the freshman and sophomores. “I think they would’ve been more confused as time went on.”

When asked about his performance as the Mad Titan, Mastrangelo simply stated that when he heard about the Marvel theme, he knew somebody would come his way, even if he personally does not see the resemblance. “The greatest strength somebody can have is the ability to laugh at themselves.”

The Class of 2023’s Junior Varieties was a great success, selling a little over 600 tickets across both nights and setting high expectations for the Class of 2024 to meet.

All photos by Chaimaa Assli.

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