The very first performance of the show was a closed one, for the families of the performers.
But the reaction was muted: “there were a lot of moments that we thought were going to get a laugh that got crickets and there were even songs that got no applause,” said David, “and that really made us panic.”
But, as it turned out, it was the stark reality of their students’ life that left parents in a stunned silence. “It was really overwhelming for them,” said David, “and the ensemble were using their own names – which didn’t help.”
The following night when the show was performed for a room full of students the reaction was the polar opposite – the story hit home for students in the audience, who were under the same pressures as the show’s protagonists.
“I stood out in the lobby after some of our early shows,” said Kyle, “and my favourite part was hearing parents saying to their kids, ‘wow! That was quite a story, wouldn’t that be crazy’ – and the kids telling their parents that actually, that’s right, that’s what it’s like.”
For parents, the show was hyperbole – but students, this show really presented the reality of college admissions, and the modern High School experience.
Kyle explained, “you disregard these experiences that these kids are going through – saying ‘you’re just a kid’ or ‘you’ll grow out of it’ or ‘you’ll look back on this and realize it wasn’t a big deal’.
“But we were watching them day in and day out, dealing with eating disorders and depression and a high anxiety and the whole gamut of what kids deal with. I think we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice by being dismissive of those feelings – and we’re dismissive of them because that’s easier than addressing the problems.”