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We Are The Tigers Main

We Are The Tigers Play Review

Written by Karin Crighton

Released by Theater80

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Directed by Michael Bello
Book, music, and lyrics written by Preston Max Allen
130 minutes plus intermission
Opened on February 21st, 2019

Lauren Zarkin as Riley
Wonu Ogunfowora as Cairo
Kaitlyn Frank as Annleigh
Jenny Rose Baker as Kate
Mimi Scardulla as Reese

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Theater80 on St. Mark’s Place has launched the careers of Bob Balaban, John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, and even taught Billy Crystal how to usher. It’s only fitting that a sparkling new play, We Are The Tigers, should begin its run among the greats.

The less-than-spectacular Tiger cheer squad convenes at the posh basement of their captain, Riley (Lauren Zarkin), determined that this year they are going to medal…or at least not drop anyone during regionals this time. Unfortunately Riley’s enthusiasm isn’t enough to overcome squad infighting, and soon the cheerleaders are at odds with each other. As they split off in angry factions, each girl sings her heart out, not knowing how they’re going to make it through this night.

Too bad a knife-wielding killer is also there, making sure some of them won’t make it through.

We Are The Tigers is infectiously fun. The electrifying songs are earworms for sure; you’ll catch yourself humming as you leave the theater. But more than that, they’re layered and provocative; lyrics that say everything will end up okay “because it has to” are a dark reminder that one still has to go on after trauma, even if it seems life is over. The talented cast has excellent style and vocal control, notably Wonu Ogunfowora blowing her solos out of the water as Prom Princess Cairo. Zarkin has excellent form as cheer captain, but it was Mimi Scardulla as Reese that got a shouting cheer for her high kicks and leap into a split mid-song.

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If it’s Reese’s joy at finally being a Tiger that makes us love her so, it’s the anger and negativity of Cairo and Kate’s (Jenny Rose Baker) stories that makes it hard to root for the whole team. It’s a bit off-putting that both characters are directed from a place of being bitter and oppositional rather than fighting for what they want. Not showing what Kate truly wants, whether it really is a relationship or something more, and helping us understand why Cairo is so resentful of the incoming freshman makes it hard to care about resolving their storylines. Songs about finally getting what they want and moving on aren’t earned since we don’t know what that is in the first place.

The costuming is lovely; each person’s style is attuned to their personality. Again, Cairo’s sportswear doesn’t quite match her prom princess status, or claims that her looks are the school’s greatest achievement. I see that more of a Kardashian fashion sense rather than a guy’s jersey tucked into jean shorts. But it is distinct, and far from Christian Fellowship Athlete Annleigh’s (Kaitlyn Frank) darling dresses and floral athleisure leggings, and the low-income scholarship winner’s camo cutoff sweatshirt.

All being said, this show is a refreshing change from your standard Broadway rom com. Quippy jokes delivered sharply by the cast (again, credit to Scardulla for stealing her scenes with keen timing), surprise twists, and deliciously gratuitous blood splatter make this on Off-Broadway delight.

Cheer for the squad starting opening night, February 21st.

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Movie: fourstars Cover

About The Author
Karin Crighton
Staff Writer | Lunatic
Karin doesn't know anything about movies, but has a lot of time and opinions to yell into the void. When she's not directing plays in and around NYC, she's watching every horror movie on every streaming service. And probably talking to a cat.
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