Fringe Review: '21 Chump Street'

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21 Chump Street at the Orlando Fringe
21 Chump Street at the Orlando Fringe
Based on a true story originally broadcast on public radio's This American Life, 21 Chump Street tells the tale of Justin (Matthew Roman), a straight-A high-school senior entrapped into dealing weed by Naomi (Alexia Correa), an attractive undercover cop. This mini-musical by Broadway's current golden boy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, packs more memorable hooks into its 15 brief minutes than all two hours of the composer's Tony-winning In the Heights. And the youthful ensemble of Boone High School students assembled by director Nadine Love and producer Scott Browning is not only more believable than the professional cast, they deliver the lyrical hip-hop (laid over a well-produced pre-recorded backing track) with exuberant aplomb.
21 Chump Street: The Musical
Caliban Productions — Orlando FL
Venue: Purple
Length: 15 Min
Price: $7 (Disc: FA)
Rating: 13 & Up – Language
Buy tickets here
The energetic choreography threatens to burst the seams of the small circular venue, and the emotional heat provided by the leads – particularly Roman, who gives a soulful performance far beyond his years – nearly burns down whatever's left. My only constructive criticism would be to provide more context, perhaps by playing excerpts from the original news report during preshow. Fringe may be overloaded with rap musicals this year, but at least on a pure entertainment-per-minute basis, 21 Chump Street will be tough to top.

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