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Sunday, May 29, 2022

21 Chump Street

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Pursued By Bear

Chapel off Chapel – 8-18 June 2017

Based on the This American Life podcast What I Did For Love, Lin Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street follows honour roll student Justin Leboy’s attempts to woo transfer student Naomi. When his in-class promposal isn’t successful, Justin leaps at the chance to oblige Naomi’s request for marijuana, unaware that his love interest is an undercover cop only interested in baiting him into a committing a felony.

Although it’s difficult to develop much emotional investment in such a short period of time, Jake Fehily’s performance as an innocent, lovelorn Justin manages this. His infectious grin and his enthusiastic wooing of Naomi are undeniably endearing, and he successfully elicits sympathy as the betrayed protagonist Justin singing “what the heck did you do?”.

Director Byron Bache pushes for laughs with the ensemble of classmates, played by Nicole Bowman, Stephanie Wood and Kai Mann-Robertson. His choral jesters harmonise while performing gangster-esque choreography, clad in black beanies and slouching into Miranda’s peppy hip hop beats.

Pursued By Bear’s performance of 21 Chump Street perfectly captures the heart of the story, delivering it in an engaging and energetic package.