REVIEW: Spartanburg Middle School Premieres Pence’s Dull Bunny Adventure Musical for Easter

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BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

Spartanburg Middle School, not generally known for its theatre program, got a much-needed boost from English teacher Teresa Barney this weekend in its first full theater production in its 11-year history as a charter school in Spartanburg County.

Ms. Barney, chorus teacher Clive Montgomery and 22 seventh and eighth graders have been meeting after school on a volunteer basis for the last two months rehearsing the world premiere story of the Vice President’s family pet  bunny, Marlon Bundo.

“Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President” was actually written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte and illustrated by his wife, Karen, and just caused a sensation when John Oliver wrote a competing book in which the First Bunny or BOTUS (Bunny of the United States) has a gay boyfriend bunny and gets married in the end.

This version, however, IS NOT  the gay Bunny version that has been outselling the Pence picture book. Hey we’re talking rural Spartanburg County. Trump country through and through.

Though the book was just released March 19, Ms. Barney’s husband’s cousin went to school with the book’s editor in New York and he was able to get an advance copy so the premiere could coincide with the Easter holiday.

Named after stud muffin actor Marlon Brando, Marlon Bundo (played by a hefty Freddie Whitmire) is less “On the Waterfront” Brando and more “Don Juan DeMarco” Brando. But he was a good sport about wearing those two stitched-together rabbit fur coats, though he was clearly sweating like a moose in Indian Summer.

The audience is treated to a full day with the Vice President, which turns out to be quite mundane and dull as Mr. Pence himself.  After a quick jaunt on Air Force Two to Baltimore for organic spinach and sun dried flower petals and a shopping spree with Nana Ivanka, there’s one series of boring meetings after another: some Russians (the steely and funny Orange Hunt and Angela Davis); some preachers; some Petroleum people. Blah, Blah Blah!

But things get better when Marlon  holds an afternoon Easter Egg Hunt and Roll with wooden spoons on the White House lawn (astro turf).

This was actually the cutest moment in the play for me, watching the gleeful teens (little ladies in bonnets and ribbons and the boys in knickers and bow ties), find the Easter eggs and scoop them up into their darling baskets . The strangest part was that the kids didn’t seem to remember where the eggs were hidden and it took a while for them to find them all. They apparently never did find one green egg. This is after 2 months of rehearsals, mind you.

I have seen Ms. Barney’s work several times over the years and she is an exceptional director and performer. And even though the show opened on Good Friday, I didn’t expect any miracles this weekend.

Clearly they have been working hard. Often it looked as if the kids were doing the same dance routine or and singing the same tune, but that was infrequent in this 90 minute set with a 20 minute intermission.

Where’s a Gay Bunny When You Need One?

But give this cast and crew an “A” for effort. They raised all of the money for this huge production and one would be surprised how much money it takes to make theatre. Even bad theatre.

The youth have been holding car washes in their bathing suits, selling subscriptions to Garden & Gun Magazine, selling mattresses, gummy bears  and 2-for-One Taco nights at Chili’s.

And then there was some woman sitting on the front row taking photos even though Ms. Barney had asked everyone to turn off cell phones and not to take pictures or video because it’s illegal.

Ms. Barney said she had planned to donate a portion of the proceeds to the local chapter of Save the Confederacy Monuments but that the drama club really needed those funds to launch next year’s production of Trump’s “Art of the Deal.” But she, added, this will be a very child-friendly adaptation.

Unfortunately, Marlon Bundo only ran for one weekend and has closed, but look for Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” next Spring.

HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
Everything you just read was a Bad Joke and hope you got a laugh or two!
And Happy Easter!
Sandy

  1. If you missed last year’s naughtier April Fool’s review, click HERE.

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