Makin' It
at Corona del Mar

Reviewed on November 21, 2013

Irvine High School
Orange County Register
Irvine High School
Orange County Register
San Juan Hills High School
OC Cappies Facebook

Amber Miller
Irvine High School

Submitted for publication to Orange County Register

CDM: "Makin' It" a Hit

Making it through high school is no easy feat. Whether you are the bully, the nerd, or one of the popular kids every teenager must struggle to find their place in high school and discover who they are. This is the powerful message of Corona Del Mar's production of "Makin' It."

"Makin' It," written by Cynthia Mercati, follows the experiences of various high school students at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School, stereotypical teens who struggle with classic high school ordeals such as relationships, parental expectations, popularity, and planning a future. CDM's production, set in the 1980's, combines excellent period clothing, makeup, and music with a talented and charming cast that gives a realistic perspective on how teens survive through high school.

Brooke Benedict (Katie Posert) is an enchanting girl searching to be one of the ‘cool kids'. Posert plays her character with determination and sincerity, giving an excellent representation of the average high school girl's desire to be noticed. Scott Barrows (Mason Amdor) is a quiet kid, who dreams of becoming an artist and of winning Brooke's heart. An endearing actor, Amdor is awkward and courageous at all the right moments, sticking with Brooke and proving that popularity is only a state of mind.

Vince Carnelli (Arthur Pescan) is the principal of the school. Warm- hearted but tough, Pescan portrays an older character with ease, sauntering across the stage emanating confidence and leadership as he attempts to restore order and a sense of community at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School.

Other significant characters in "Makin' It" include Karl Swanson (Max Peterson) Dwight D. Eisenhower High's football star who proves to be a sweet, honest guy, especially with Libby (Emily Arenal), a "different" girl who likes reading and memorizing football statistics. Their onstage chemistry is sweet and touching, as Peterson earnestly pursues Arenal despite her stubborn refusal to acknowledge a guy so popular could like a girl who was just so "different".

With an impressively consistent ensemble, powerful monologues, and a fantastic ‘80s theme, CDM's "Makin' It" made a statement for all students: every one struggles in high school. It does not make a difference if you are a cheerleader, a geek, a burnout, or bully; every one has a story. And no matter who you are, you can make it when you discover and embrace who you are.

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Kinsey Sundstrom
Irvine High School

Submitted for publication to Orange County Register

CDM Produces Poignant Production of High School Tale

There's no doubt about it; high school is tough. From the intimidating bullies to the questionable school lunches to the never-ending quest for popularity, Corona del Mar's production of Cynthia Mercati's "Makin' It" explores the everyday trials and tribulations of high school students.

Set in the 1980's, "Makin' It" follows a diverse group of teens as they face the many challenges of high school. School bully Hunter Dunbar (Christopher Diem) has always ruled the school, but when outcast Scott Barrows (Mason Amdor) decides to take a stand on behalf of Brooke Benedict (Katie Posert) and the school's misfits, the dynamics of Dwight D. Eisenhower High are changed forever.

Diem gave a powerful performance as Hunter, perfectly portraying the cruel, hardened façade of a school bully while allowing the audience brief glimpses of his vulnerability through his monologues. Max Peterson and Emily Arenal were equally engaging as Karl Swanson and Libby, two high school students from different social circles who form a connection in spite of the notorious status quo. Peterson's earnest sincerity perfectly complimented Arenal's quirky, introverted nature, making for a believable and honest high school romance.

Arthur Pescan should also be commended for his performance as Vince Carnelli, the tough but fair school principal. From his lilting accent to his confident stride, Pescan perfectly portrayed Carnelli's paternal, caring nature. The two "mean girls", Barb (Adelaide Alva) and Sharon (Sara Marshall), gave the audience a peek into the minds of school bullies, revealing the poignant truth that bullies are often victims themselves.

Diana Place created fun period costumes that captured both the spirit of the 80's and the unique personalities of each character. 80's trends like denim and preppy clothing gave the show an authentic, retro feel while the sound design of Cole Rowerdink provided fun, upbeat transitions between scenes. From Buzzard's (Art Mikhaylovskiy) boom box to the rockin' beats of the school dance, the music selection and usage was always on point.

From the simplest choices of what to wear to the much more difficult decision of how to address bullying, high schoolers face many challenges. But for every trial they face, high school students display incredible strength and tenacity. At the end of the day, we're all just trying to make it.

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Chase Robinson
San Juan Hills High School

Submitted for publication to OC Cappies Facebook

Corona Del Mar's ‘Makin' It' is Meritorious

Prepare for a trip down memory lane as Corona Del Mar High School whisks you off to a time of outrageous hairdos, neon clothing, and boom boxes blaring a Pat Benatar song—the good ol' eighties.

"Makin' It," by Cynthia Mercati, follows the lives of several teenagers who realize they are all similar in their plight to discover themselves and "make it" through high school. The seasoned actors connect with the audience through remarkably real characters that not only break the fourth wall, but also earn sympathy for their struggles.

Mason Amdor is charming and captivating as Scott Barrows. Amdor depicts insecurity through soft, mouse-like tones. As Amdor sheds his jacket, which symbolizes his safety blanket, this self-doubt blossoms into self-confidence. Katie Posert portrays Brooke Benedict, Scott's love interest in the play. Posert remains dedicated to her character throughout the performance, as she parades about with a poise and vivacity suitable for a teenage girl.

As Hunter Dunbar, Christopher Diem commands the stage with immeasurable presence. Diem utilizes different levels at the start of Act 2 to capture the audience's attention while his cool kid façade slowly shatters to reveal his afflicted self. Alike Diem, Max Peterson as Karl Swanson illustrates his inner conflict through raw emotion. He develops a profound relationship with Libby that includes hand holding on a lone bench and kissing under the glow of colored lights.

Humorous and geeky as Howie, George Langford epitomizes the stereotypical nerd. Langford's portrayal is entertaining as he remains in character even when bullies shove him in a locker. The makeup crew of Rory Gaudio, Jake Carlis, and Renata Ingerson skillfully creates bulging pimples on Langford's face to further enhance his nerdy character. Also, their execution of a black eye has audience members in awe, as it appears Amdor is actually struck in a brawl.

Costume designer Diana Place highlights the retro and bright styles of the eighties in all their glory. Diana captures edginess in Burnout's fluorescent pink Cheshire cat attire, while Jen's individualistic costume of a baggy sweater and loose-fitting skirt is reminiscent of "The Breakfast Club."

Notable not only for its theatrical and technical mastery, CdM's performance shines light on the issues that haunt teenagers today and takes a stand to combat these issues through performing arts.

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