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Journalism at MSJC
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Popstars: an “All-Star” experience at MSJC

A Spoiler-Free Review of MSJC’s Latest Performing Arts Production
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Scarlett Coit

This past weekend, the doors opened for MSJC’s spring musical, Popstars: The 90s Musical, directed by Bianca Swan-Finch and written by Neil Gooding and Nicholas Cristo. After seeing it open over the weekend, I can say the show was a charming experience. The moment the opening act started, the energy was full of ambition; vibrancy practically radiated from the stage. The atmosphere matched the time period the musical wished to encapsulate.

Set in the 1990s, Popstars: The 90s Musical follows Shannon (Madison Darr) and Mark (Lorenzo Martinez), high school sweethearts turned sour as Shannon breaks up with him to pursue making an all-girls pop group. Her sights are on winning their hometown’s talent show. The prize? A life-changing contract from a musical industry juggernaut. Mark, dealing with the fallout of her decisions and being publicly humiliated by her, decides to form his own group to join the talent show. Though his plan initially began as a way to get back at Shannon, he soon finds other sources of motivation to win that one-in-a-million chance of making it big.

Songs of An Era: The Usage of 90s Classics 

The interconnection between the song choices and the story beats was strong. The direction of each song correlated well with the respective scenes in which they were sung. Prime examples can be seen in the performance of Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud,” which is used for celebratory scenes of triumphs. Bon Jovi’s “Always” and Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag” are used to represent the mix of emotions Mark has after his breakup with Shannon. These two examples only scratch the surface of how well thought each song number was to each respective story beat it was assigned to. Even Smash Mouth’s meme-worthy hit “All-Star” was tastefully added in a way that got a few members of the audience laughing, me included.

Scarlett Coit

Cast Chemistry: On the Stage and Behind the Scenes

Good chemistry between the cast and crew is vital in any performing arts production. I am confident that this production was full of it. The show’s charisma is undoubtedly carried by the cast’s dynamic. From the main leads to the side characters, all musical members had a wonderful experience. This was only further solidified after I was able to interview some of the cast members.

Tyson Oliver was one of the first cast members I spoke with after the show had ended. Oliver has been in numerous past theater productions, and this is his third performance for MSJC performing arts. “The song selection was a delight, and the dynamic and charm between the cast are something special.” He states, “The chemistry we have here is nice.”  Another cast member who echoed this sentiment was Bella Rusin, who marks this as her tenth book musical and played Elvira in last semester’s play Blithe Spirit. Rusin stated, “The main highlight was meeting new people and forming new friendships. The musical assembly was a treat to rehearse and sing.” Three other actors echoed these sentiments as well.

This was Claudia Walukouw’s debut in the college theater sphere. She’s had an eventful past as an event coordinator, library assistant, and even an ESL teacher in Thailand. Walukouw stated, “This was by far the best group of people I worked with. I would recommend for anyone interested in any upcoming auditions to go for it. Even if it’s working behind the scenes.” Rebekah Bailey has been in two past MSJC productions, Esperanza and Blithe Spirit, making this the third production she’s been in. “I’m grateful I was able to partake in this show. It gave me a chance to reconnect with people and just let loose with some scenes.” Madison Darr stated, “The environment the crew and cast were able to cultivate was welcoming. Everyone was nice and willing to extend help when it was needed.” 

When Is It?

Although this sounds cliché, this show needs to be seen in person. The immense love and craftsmanship put into the production make this a wonderful trip of nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the 90s or even in the early and late 2000s. Closing weekend for Popstars: The 90s Musical is March 29th and 30th at 7:30 p.m. at the Mt. San Jacinto College Theater in building 1500. If you want to kick off your spring break with some high energy, this is the best way to do so!

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About the Contributors
Fatima Saucedo
Fatima Saucedo, Writer / Podcaster / Graphic Designer
Howdy :] I'm Fatima Saucedo! I'm a studio arts major and planning on transferring in 2025 to a four-year university focused on arts! I'm currently a podcast member for the Talon, but I hope to branch out into being a writer and graphic designer as well! :D I want to try my best to step up my contributions to the Talon. It's been interesting seeing how the behind-the-scenes aspect of journalism works, and I'm hoping I'll be getting more experience as well!
Scarlett Coit
Scarlett Coit, Writer / Photographer
Hello! My name is Scarlett Coit & I’m currently working towards earning an Associate’s Degree in Journalism, & will later transfer to a four-year university to complete my Bachelor’s. I’m interested in photojournalism, as I’ve been photographing local creatives & urban architecture for many years now. I spend a lot of time reading about American politics, through recent news or political theory, & love learning about how they shape our lives & relationships with others. I spend my free time reading, drawing, & being a bit pretentious about film & television.

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