Tipsy Review: Queen’s Players takes a trip back to high school

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Queen’s Players offers another successful run of musical comedy

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Somehow, I always knew returning to high school would involve being a little too inebriated. 

Luckily, Queen’s Players was there last Saturday night at The Mansion to make sure it went smoother than my first kick at the can with high school. While knocking back Schooners like they were trying to forget the trials of high school, an enthusiastic, slightly blurry audience helped say goodbye to the theatre troupe for another semester.

Known to all who have ever attended a show, the audience performer interplay is the baseline of Players. It’s symbiotic: the audience buys the performers’ drinks, ribs them when they miss a line and eggs on the singers whenever they hear a song they know. Meanwhile, the actors and band supply the belly laughs and entertainment that make the whole thing work. 

The actors’ performances were a collection of skits inspired by everything from The Emperor’s New Groove, Superbad, Harry Potter and Riverdale. The send-up of the latter was an angsty Jughead parody by returning cast member Liam Collins that became the show’s easy standout. 

It was Collins’ final outing with Players and the show closed with a heartfelt goodbye. The sincerity was surprising after a couple hours of poking fun at Jughead’s angsty Riverdale persona. 

Meanwhile, Players showcased their total willingness to be irreverent about nearly everything. 

The humour here comes off as a bunch of friends hunched together in the cafeteria, making celebrity impressions that go too far until suddenly, the characters from Emperor’s New Groove are going down on each other. It ruined my childhood, but then again, so did high school.  

At this point, I had just enough Schooners to be telling my friends I loved them, so this loss of innocence was more funny than scarring. 

However, Players works best as a marathon to ride out right till the end. You really have to be in it for the long haul. 

You only really “get” the show when the cast starts looking more than a little inebriated, and you realize you’re right there with them. Sure, the line delivery is far from flawless after a few hours of audience members passing the cast free beer. But the show remains truly endearing due to its casual, party atmosphere that gives the performers space to directly engage with the audience.

It’s like if frosh week’s Existere production did shots of Jäger but insisted on keeping all the sex jokes. Players knows who its audience is, and that audience is mostly not okay to drive.

Nonetheless, the production’s band managed to keep a solid grip on the range of genres and singers covered over the course of the night’s show. Its live music goes a long way to elevate the various musical numbers and gives the performance a musical heft that would otherwise be absent. 

As they played through to the show’s conclusion and old cast members started to rush the stage as per tradition, I was making plans to get a burrito. Players is as much about participation as it is about the show — and if my hangover meant anything, it’s that the show and its audience are as strong as they’ve ever been. 

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