Shortly after Charlene Kaye took the stage as the opening act of StarKid‘s performance at Roseland Ballroom on Sunday evening —the final date of their “Apocalyptour”— she addressed her audience of 3,500. “It’s the end of the world,” she told them. “And you get to experience it with us.” The crowd erupted as Kaye continued playing her 45-minute set, a loud and buoyant assortment of songs that showcased her powerful voice and magnetic stage presence. Apart from a poorly conceived request for her audience to kneel down and jump in unison (an act that seemed to cause more disgruntlement than enjoyment), she held a tight grip on the crowd. Her set ended with “Animal Love I,” an electrifying anthem (and the best song of the entire evening) that seemed fitting for a theater of people who had been told to expect end of the world.
But was it really the apocalypse? As someone who knew almost nothing about StarKid upon entering the venue that evening, I couldn’t be too sure. The thousands of screaming children, parents who weren’t sure how to deal with the noise, and stage filled with good-looking performers in complimentary costumes featuring varying levels of thigh exposure felt like some kind of terrifying trifecta that could only mean certain death.
Fortunately for the crowd (and to a lesser extent, me), the world did not end after Charlene left the stage, and the Apocalyptour continued as the remaining performers of StarKid began their show. The minimal and vaguely Incan set design was, like every other element of the show’s construction, merely a method of threading disconnected StarKid songs together. The show’s framing device featured them as archeologists who encounter an ancient god of “chaos, death and musical theater” hell-bent on destroying the world. To dissuade him, they perform selections from their repertoire, including pieces from A Very Potter Musical, Me and My Dick, and Starship. A set list that moves from songs about penises to ones about Hermione Granger is objectively weird, but the StarKids (all former students of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater & Dance) have an impressive grip on writing and, though lyrically all over the place, that persistent musical theater tone helped tie every dick and Potter song together.
Choreography was often distractingly clunky and many moments, such as several characters being tricked into drinking urine and more than one joke celebrating the destruction of Paris, were just strange — but despite my repetitive shade-throwing, it’s hard for me to deny the StarKids’ charm and talent for putting on a show. And discounting the deafening screams that were elicited each time Glee star Darren Criss took the stage, I was surprised by how equally each performer was received by the audience and more than impressed by the group’s insistence on giving each of its 10 members equal time in the spotlight.
“They’re all a big family, and they consider all of us StarKids too,” one fan told me before the show began. And while I’m in no way desirous of such a title, had it really been the end of the world, I can see myself craving that comfort of belonging.
OK, maybe not.
[Photo Credit: Lauren Thompson]