A sober & drunk take on Never Say Neverland

The Journal's annual drunk/sober review examines addicted celebrities in Queen's Players newest production

Martha Stewart gives the child stars a taste of prison life in an episode of Scared Straight.
Martha Stewart gives the child stars a taste of prison life in an episode of Scared Straight.
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Daniel Gold sings Third Eye Blind's "Semi Charmed Life."
Daniel Gold sings Third Eye Blind's "Semi Charmed Life."
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Lindsay Lohan relives her Mean Girl days.
Lindsay Lohan relives her Mean Girl days.
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Sober review

Hybrid music, comedy and drunk theatre show Queen’s Players is a loud and fun time — whether you’re stone sober or enjoying a little too much gin and juice.

Never Say Neverland Ranch meshes together multiple reality shows including The Surreal Life and Scared Straight in an attempt to rehabilitate washed-up child stars like Shia LaBeouf and Taylor Hanson. Irony follows as Dr. Phil McGraw and kitchen aficionado Martha Stewart guide the ex-child stars through their struggles. It's hard to believe ex-convict Martha Stewart and a sensation loving Dr. Phil actually want to help people.

While the ensemble worked well together, it was clear the show has its flaws. Dr. Phil, played by Jonathan Newman, was grating to watch, and he gives a poor performance mixing not-so-funny jokes with awful timing and an accent that's lacking. He managed to redeem himself with a rendition of the song “Little Lion Man,” which had the audience up and dancing.

Players suffered in the same way that many comedy shows do — sketches are funny throughout, but there's no discernible ending. Once jokes were exhausted, it seemed like the go-to move was to make an unimaginative sexual quip, after which everyone would troop off stage. The problem is that sex isn’t an uncomfortable topic so it's hard to elicit big laughs — at least not from someone who isn’t a little tipsy.

A few of the characters had set jokes, such as Haley Joel Osment’s endless appropriation of the “I see dead people” line. The joke got tired until the ensemble made light of them with self-aware, self-deprecating jokes that were dependably funny.

The musical numbers were also a mixed bag. Most were poppy, up-tempo and danceable, making them a perfect combination, but others simply went on for too long. Almost every song should have been trimmed down by a minute.

Closing the show with the full five and a half minutes of Kansas’ guitar solo-laden “Carry on My Wayward Son,” while all the cast and production team dance on stage, was indulgent more than enjoyable.

These flaws didn’t overshadow the parts of the show that were genuinely funny and well done. The entire female cast was exceptional. Special accolades go to Tia Mcgregor as Raven-Symone, who made sharp jokes and sang with gusto.

Far and away the highlight of the show was the film used to lead into the intermission. It was a seamless rant that featured each member of the cast making light of issues including Queen’s admission standards, campus demographics and rave drugs. It was the part of the show that ran most heavily on wit and cleverness.

The cast got more drunk as the show progressed, chugging an astonishing amount of beer. Their delivery took a dive, but watching the actors attempt to recover from blunders and laugh it off was hilarious.

This year’s Players was a fun way to spend an evening, but don’t go looking for anything highbrow. It’s a sexual and obscene romp that lends itself well to drunken revelry.

— Andrew Stokes

Drunk reviews

As a veteran Queen’s Players fan I can say Never Say Neverland Ranch? was the best Queen’s Players show I’ve seen to date. And it wasn’t just because I was drunk. Instead, the choreography, organization and song choices contributed to the show's success.

The celebrity characters were well-chosen, from Daniel Radcliffe swearing he’s not a virgin to Vanessa Hudgens breaking free from her clean high school days. The sketches kept my attention with witty Queen’s references and an impromptu “Oil Thigh.”

As always the songs were thoroughly enjoyable. A rookie started off the night with “When You Were Young” by The Killers and proved this year’s new-comers rightfully earned their places among the veterans.

His backup singers added some Players taste to the lyrics; when he belted out “You don’t have to drink right now” they snuck in a “Yes you do.” So we did, and we loved it.

— Catherine Owsik

My first experience at Queen’s Players was definitely memorable — from what I can remember of it.

The title of the show, a joke about Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson rolled into one, told me everything I needed to know. The show was full of substance-abusing child stars and uncomfortable sexual come-ons from an over-the-hill Dr. Phil.

The musical performances ranged from classics like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” to recent hits like “Pumped up Kicks.” Third Eye Blind’s “Semi Charmed Life” was my personal favourite as Daniel Gold charmed the audience and had everyone “doot doot dooting” along.

After a few beers, I found myself asking, “How close must these people have gotten during rehearsals to be comfortable licking each other or giving pretend blow jobs?”

— Savoula Stylianou

It was definitely better than the painful Player’s show this summer, mainly because the amount of time between each song was much shorter. Sorry, but when I’m drunk, the less you talk the better.

The song choices were superb, especially Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man” — no one likes an interlude they can’t sing to.

The Macaulay Culkin references were clever, with multiple Home Alone expressions being pulled. In fact all the jokes were funny, to the point that at times I cried with laughter. A favourite moment was a sketch that uses a sorting hat to place the celebrities in either the Martha Stewart or Dr. Phil house. Daniel Gold really could be another Weasley.

The cast had legitimate talent, from their hilarious mannerisms to rockstar qualities with the mic.

— Meaghan Wray

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