If you ever find yourself in the Los Angeles area during February, you have no excuse for missing Pop Show, aka The Even Greater Show On Earth. Pop Show is an annual song and dance extravaganza put on by the kids from the vocal department at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, and although it runs at three hours plus, never is there a moment when I am not on the verge of bounding from my seat and applauding, and this, coming from a generally reluctant applauder, is saying a lot. Last night was the 25th anniversary show, appropriately entitled, "One Wild Night," and it did not disappoint. From the moment the girls broke out in the opening number wearing dresses that appeared to be cut out to show major peeks at the breast area (that I saw no nipples clued me into the fact that there was skin-colored fabric underneath the holes), it only got better and better. Just as E! does post-Oscar highlights, here are some of my Pop Show 2004 favorites:
-Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, in which two Latina girls who looked as though they're ten years out of high school, but aren't, made eye-love to all the fathers and brothers in the audience. The sixty-ish man in the seat next to me physically squirmed.
- Ain't No Mountain High Enough, a solo between Vanessa and Marlon, in which Marlon looked as if there was, indeed, a riser high enough to keep him from Vanessa. As he, panicked, sang about the impossibility of obstacles to his love, Marlon desperately looked anywhere but at his partner and seemed disappointed to have to shuffle toward her to visually demonstrate the point of the song. It was really touching, and I'm not kidding.
- The Decibelles singing a "From the Cradle to the Grave" medley, and the graphics projected on the screen behind them while they were performing, I Won't Grow Up, which looked suspiciously like a pink-pill pack of birth control pills.
- Macavity, that old number from "Cats," which required that the girls get into leotard-kitty outfits, which again, featured one of the uber-hot Latinas and which again, made the old man next to me squirm.
- The entire Men At Work medley. Men At Work is the boy group of John Burroughs, and the girl introducing them said that Pop Show was trying to cram as much testosterone as possible onto the stage, but it was more like a whole lot of some new sexually/gender ambiguous hormone that doctors have yet to identify. The guys sang Bad Mamajama as the only black kid in the group pranced around in a princess dress and a bow pinned to his junior-afro, and they also performed Ninja Rap, complete with Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle multi-color eyebands and Vanilla Ice 'tude. All in all, a really fulfilling set.
- I enjoyed the duet of A Whole New World, not for the song, but for the way Christian kept looking like he was trying to make out with Katie, and the way Katie kept looking out to the audience like she wanted to make out with a Broadway talent scout.
- The Powerhouse (the top group) performance of a song I'm unfamiliar with, When David Heard, which was apparently about King David from the bible and was introduced religiously by the girl who used her "Senior Statement" space in the program to announce, "First and foremost, I thank my Lord and Savior for showing me that all things are possible!" The song was so long and dirge-like that I began to get creeped out, and I distracted myself by trying to scan the singers to figure out if anyone in there was a non-Christian/non-Jew, and if he/she was offended by song selection. In the end, this proved entertaining.
But I've saved the best for last. I've long prided myself on having a talent to spot talent in its early stages. I called Jennifer Love Hewitt's and Eric Balfour's success in the golden days of Kids Incorporated. I called Sarah Michelle Gellar's eventual stardom as soon as I saw her on All My Children. I knew Amber Tamblyn was going to hit it big from her work on General Hospital, and I saw huge potential in Kat Dennings even while she was standing next to the brightest of them all, Bob Saget, on Raising Dad. So I'm just going to lay this prediction down for posterity, that John Burroughs High School student Caitlyn Ary will eventually be The Next Big Thing.
I originally spotted Caitlyn at Pop Show 2003, where, due to her underclassman status, she was mostly put in ensemble numbers, but still leapt out from the group like a space-age firecracker among a pile of duds. This year I'm guessing she's a junior (no "Senior Statement" from her), and the year has been extremely kind. This girl, with her blond hair, dark brown eyebrows, and "nobody puts her in a corner" charisma, is like Brooke Shields playing a teen prostitute playing a WASP playing a John Burroughs High School vocal department student. She's amazing, and I'm calling it.