Taking place in 1992, two high school students, a Black girl, Gina (Kendall Stallworth), and a Latino boy, P.J., (Sergio Morejon), meet a new kid named Zach (played by both Stallworth and Morejon). The rebellious titular character instantly becomes popular with his fellow peers.
After Gina and P.J. start hanging out with Zach, the friends soon become concerned when the Caucasian student takes part in a variety of immoral pranks without facing any consequences.
Playwright, Christian St. Croix, pays tribute to 90’s entertainment, without turning the script into inside baseball. Although “Saved by the Bell” fans will notice that Zach is poking fun at the protagonist of that series, Zack Morris, Croix does include universal themes about White privilege, race and popularity. He balances the messages with plenty of very funny and clever humor and a touching friendship at the center between Gina and P.J.
Stallworth and Morejon excel playing every single role written by Croix. Their chemistry at OnStage Playhouse is instantly noticeable, and it’s impressive how the artists take turns playing Zack since the vocal and physical mannerisms from the stars capture the troublemaking attitude of the dangerous prankster.The performances are under the direction of Michael Amira, and she stages them in scenes ranging from fast paced to slower moments that let the piece breathe, even at a short 80-minute runtime.
Her interpretation is a throwback to the 90s with set designer, Hsi-An Chen, costume designer, Emily Carter and sound designer, Estefanía Ricalde, bringing plenty of era-friendly touches. Chen’s projections and Emily Johansson’s lighting add to the atmosphere, especially as more people are introduced during the evening.
The one stylistic choice that could be minimized is the periodic use of a laugh track. While the laugh track is appropriate for the introduction, which helps set up the small screen vibe of the plot, it does not feel necessary to the events that occur following the prologue.
Regardless of your level of nostalgia for ’90s teen television comedies, Zach is a terrific friendship play that manages to incorporate meaningful issues. Croix has come up with an energetic and consistently witty tale.
[box] Show times are Thursday at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Sundays at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm and Monday at 7:30 pm. [/box]