Things Are Not Peachy in the Royal Court
An unprecedented soph-frosh win: the feats and woes of the royal court.
Reading Time: 7 minutes
“You tell your father that if I don’t get a raise and if he doesn’t get rid of the peaches, then I quit!”
In a historic win, soph-frosh took home the title of SING! champions. The production wowed the judges and audience with its tale of luxury and incompetence, betrayal and budding romance, monarchy, and acceptance; soph-frosh delivered a night of biting quips and familiar tropes. Directed by Rayen Zhou and produced by Grace Rhee, Joanne Hwang, Ahana Chandra, and Tristan Haugh, the performance followed the drama of a royal family weighed-down by the ill decisions made by their party-obsessed king (David Son).
Before the curtains rose, a duo of guards (biology teachers Marissa Maggio and Jerry Citron) outfitted in enormous powdered wigs and red vests marched onstage, dragging an enraged bread thief behind them. The criminal was deposited into a cage framed by silver bars as the guards made groan-inducing science jokes. Once the guards exited the stage, the disgruntled thief met his fellow inmate: a figure cloaked in blue (Rachel Alvarez), who offered to help pass the time by telling the story of an infamous jester who disrupted the royal court.
The curtains finally opened to reveal a line of actors clad in regal capes and royal garb, as the opening notes to “Alexander Hamilton” were sounded by the band. This first number made an immediate impact on the crowd, introducing Queen Lilith (Andrea Wang), the alcoholic mother who resents the day her son took her rightful seat on the throne; Ivy Barnes (Lily Wagman), the dissatisfied maiden fighting the control of her power-hungry father; Geraldine (Ashvica Sinha), the court jester who is “destined” for musical greatness; Princess Azalea (Jane No), the socially awkward daughter of the uninvolved king; and Pepper (Daniella Solomon), the overworked royal chef who struggles to keep up with the king’s peach obsession.
Once the number came to a close, the narrator introduced the Kingdom of Staten Island, a “whimsical” land where parties are hosted daily. In this particular festivity, soph-frosh Latin took the stage, landing impressive lifts in their emerald green skirts as chorus members sang in accompaniment. The end of the Latin number coincided with the finale of Geraldine’s trampoline routine for an audience of one. The king’s advisor, Theodore (Dylan Ross), was introduced as he entered the stage as the only member of the royal court with “more than one functioning brain cell” entered. Geraldine joined the group to pitch her musical act, but was quickly dismissed as King Andrias entered the stage, launching into an upbeat rendition to the tune of Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk,” joined by soph-frosh hip-hop. While Andrias’s dancing was not the most technically impressive, his charisma and self-adoration came through with each shake of his behind and flailing of his arms.
While Andrias took a moment to wipe his forehead and catch his breath, Queen Lilith, decked in a floor-length red gown and matching eye makeup, joined the court. After addressing her son, Lilith staggered through the court in search of another drink of kombucha, effectively portraying disdain for her role as simply the king’s mother. Benedict Barnes (River Soto), a desperate member of the nobility, approached Andrias’s throne to introduce the king to his daughter, Ivy (presumably not for the first time). Ivy played the part of an embarrassed teenager, rolling her eyes and muttering “dad…” under her breath. Andrias explained that he was “not interested in hiring right now” despite Benedict’s reminder that the Queen would not be there to guide him forever. Lilith retorted, “I sure hope not.” The father-and-daughter couple was soon replaced by the ever-persistent Geraldine, ukulele in hand.
Dumbledore, the royal prophet, swept onstage carrying her crystal ball, displacing the jester once again. Despite the prophet’s wild predictions and hectic appearance, the king believed in Dumbledore’s ability to see the future. Dumbledore declared that his “crystal ball predicts that the seniors will have a cast director,” pausing before following up with, “Yeah, I’m just messing with you, that’s not gonna happen,” poking fun at the absence of the position in Senior SING!. Dumbledore also predicted that the husband of a woman onstage was bound to cheat on her with her mother (a revelation that was confirmed later on in the show, producing waves of laughter in the crowd). When alone with Andrias, Lilith confronted the king about her disapproval of his immature conduct; she expressed annoyance with her son’s misplaced trust in Dumbledore’s prophecies and his overall inability to lead the Kingdom of Staten Island.
The next scene opened with Theodore and Andrias, and in contrast with Lilith’s confrontational relationship with the king, Theodore complied with Andrias’s demands despite his growing concern for the kingdom’s rising debt. Andrias then proposed his new royal plan with the reveal of a scroll reading “Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss.” At the king’s instruction, Theodore taught him how to use “future slang,” began to refer to him as “girlboss,” and catered to Andrias’s requests for more peach-based foods. The lights went out and the scene returned with Benedict’s struggle to secure his daughter a job despite Ivy’s feeble protests. As the dispute continued, Azalea and the soph-frosh modern crew entered the court. The princess and Ivy sang a captivating duet about their struggles with being in the royal court as soph-frosh modern’s choreography brilliantly matched the singers’ harmony.
In the next scene, Lilith and Andrias bickered about both of their failed contributions to the kingdom. Lilith broke out into her first solo about the inner conflict between the devotion she has to both her son and the kingdom. Geraldine overheard, and artfully convinced the queen to collaborate with her in a plot to kill the king. Considering the queen’s previous monologue and the general dismissiveness with which Geraldine was routinely treated in the court, Lilith’s sudden acceptance to the murder of her son was both surprising and somewhat unconvincing. The lights went out and soph-frosh flow entered. “Queen” played, and the crew’s golden-yellow lights conveyed soph-frosh’s royal theme.
The setting returned to the kitchen, where Ivy and Azalea continued to bond over their frustrating experiences with their parents. The discussion was mixed with disses to Junior SING!’s summer camp theme. Azalea commented, “One time, when I had COVID, [my father] told me to drink bleach,” and Ivy added that her “dad threatened to send [her] to bible camp.” Next, Geraldine snuck into the kitchen to prepare a poisoned peach cake for the king, but was caught in the act by an insulted Pepper, who misread the situation as Andrias’s traitorous recruitment of a new chef.
After Pepper stormed off, a pensive Ivy questioned Geraldine about her job as a chef, on the verge of recognizing that she was actually the royal jester. Azalea paid no heed to Ivy’s observations, and Geraldine went on to poison the dish (illogically using a “fatal” dose of poison ivy as the murder weapon). Geraldine and Lilith then entered, planning the latter’s inevitable ascension to the throne following Andrias’s “tragic accident.” After taking her leave, Geraldine rejoiced at the way things were “looking up” and transitioned into a strong musical rendition of “Feeling Good,” in which she conveyed her excitement for the king’s downfall. The jester’s solo was accompanied by an engaging soph-frosh Latin performance, followed by a well-choreographed Bolly ensemble performance.
Nearing the climax, the story switched back to Lilith, who was seated on the royal throne as she observed Pepper’s preparations for the imminent party; once Andrias entered, Lilith quickly reassured her son, somewhat irately, that she was only keeping the seat warm. Upon spotting a peach cake, Andrias rushed to the table, unaware of the fact that it contained poison ivy. However, just as the king was about to take a bite, Dumbledore rushed onstage in a frenzy and revealed that the meal was poisoned. Shocked yet grateful, Andrias proclaimed Dumbledore his new advisor, much to the dismay of Theodore. The court then erupted into chaos as the king accused Pepper of attempted murder, though much of the gathered crowd defended the chef’s integrity. After Azalea realized that Lilith was the only one with access to poison, she despairingly turned towards the Queen and asked, “Grandma?” Andrias distraughtly confronted his mother, who reminded him that he was not a responsible son nor attentive father. Another confrontation between Azalea and Andrias ensued, culminating in a heartfelt apology from Andrias and a father-daughter reconciliation.
As everyone deliberated on the possible culprit, Ivy chimed in with a recollection of Geraldine in the kitchen, after which Geraldine made an enthusiastic entrance and feigned grief at the death of Andrias, oblivious that Andrias was alive and well. The jester’s blunder results in her subsequent downfall, and the audience is brought back from the lengthy flashback to the cage from the beginning of the show. It is then revealed that the downbeat prisoner in the cage who has been relating the story to the bread thief is none other than Geraldine—several years in the future—and thus, Soph-Frosh SING! comes full-circle with a strong resolution.
All in all, Soph-Frosh SING! impressed with its coherent plot, intricate costumes, and outstanding performances from soph-frosh Latin and hip-hop. One of the most prominent features of the production was the high-quality comedy and improvised disses, far surpassing those of the other grades. There were also clever references to politics, such as Andrias’s unwise decision of purchasing NFTs, his advice to “drink bleach” when Azalea had COVID, and Lilith’s remark: “the climate hasn’t changed since I last checked.”
The set had noteworthy highlights, including the flickering hearth in Pepper’s kitchen, complete with wavering flames. A full-size chandelier hung from the ceiling—one of the most architecturally advanced pieces across all of the SING! productions. The peaches, though, which were often tossed from hand to hand or carried across the stage, resembled lumpy bell-peppers of varying sizes.
Additionally, the traditional hierarchy of a royal court was somewhat lacking, as there was little differentiation between the nobility and the monarchs themselves. Azalea and Ivy, in their similar pink dresses, could easily have been mistaken for members of the same class; for a show focused on the royal court, there were missed opportunities to create class tensions.
Despite these minor shortcomings, Soph-Frosh SING! shined with its humor, enthusiasm, captivating sets, and intricate costumes, leaving an overall positive impression on the crowd. The sophomore class is the first to have never experienced virtual SING!, ushering in a new era of post-COVID performance at Stuyvesant—a revolutionary era, it seems, based on their unprecedented victory.