By Rachael Nguyen and Janeth Sanchez
City College alumni, Lisa McHenry, is performing at the Shelton Theater in “Megabytes! The Musical,” a revue written and directed by Morris Bobrow, whose long-running musical revues offer unique comedic shows that have gained the attention of fans and critics alike.
The revue is a montage of over 20 scenes about the world of technology and all of its relatable frustrations. A total of four actors switched off playing a multitude of roles within these comedic skits that reflect on the imperfections of technology in our society.
Inescapable real world complications derived from technology impeding on social norms are highlighted throughout the play, each consisting of brand new characters.
The first scene introduces actors David Goodwin, Deborah Russo, Kim Larsen, and Lisa McHenry to the stage with their faces buried in their smartphones! While being obsessively engrossed in their technology, the characters bump into each other because they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.
Bobrow’s humor offers a perspective of complications anyone can encounter in this world of tech. At the end of each punch-line packed song, the lights dim down for the actors to prepare to act as a new character.
“It’s unusual to get to work for a music revue and act as so many different characters in such a short amount of time,” McHenry said. “That’s what I really love about Morrie’s work is that I get to do so much.”
The powerhouse vocalist, who earned her AA in Liberal arts at City College, confessed that she started out in the music department with Dr. Judy Hubbell and Dr. Dilworth. When asked what she hoped the audience walked away with after the show, McHenry said, “I’d like them to think about how much fun they had here without technology for an hour.”
The show continued to touch base with typical social frustrations members of an audience encounter. Everything from cell phones ringing during performances, being on vacation desperately searching for Wi-Fi and 8 year-olds tech experts were mentioned.
It’s commendable how many different aspects of technology usage were packed into one show. “It’s fun to play with the words he (Morrie) gives us,” Goodwin said.
One of Goodwin’s characters struggled trying to use Photoshop to edit the prospective picture for his online dating profile. When asked if his personal relationship with technology relates closely to the script Goodwin said, “I’m online dating. It’s not pretty.”
The depicted anxieties continue in a scene acted by Russo, in which a woman sits in disarray, hunched over her laptop unable to meet password requirements. She sings, “You can’t use an English word, because the word can be inferred, and then come other rigid rules that make you swear a lot.”
Other scenes in the musical exemplify society’s obsession with technology by making fun of wearable technology, text abbreviations and the fear of hitting the “send” button on emails.
Babrow pokes fun at the increasing multitude of apps by thinking of the unthinkable –an app that lets you skip church. Larsen’s character pitches “Priest in Your Pocket.” How does it work? “Easy, you just press and confess,” Bobrow said.
Bobrow confessed later that his personal relationship with technology is “primarily frustration,” and that’s what helped him to develop inspiration for the revue. “These are just basic human frustrations we all experience, I don’t care how smart you are, or how good you are with technology, all these situations apply to everybody –including techies,” he said.
Bobrow has written and directed several revues that were also montages built off a specific theme. A suggestion to write about technology served as inspiration for “Megabytes!”, driving him to draft a list of his pet peeves.
“That’s what the material comes out of –my own personal experiences, anxieties and various situations that are depicted in the show […] You can tell from the laughs that people are relating to it,” Bobrow said.
In the real world outside of the play, City College students who were approached for candid interviews about technology and its place in our world seemed to agree with the points that Bobrow made in “Megabytes!”.
City College Physics major, Joshua Marcia, admitted that even tech users face frustrations using technology. His main gripe is that hardwares don’t always last through their software updates –specially for Apple products.
“People depend too much on technology, they don’t know how to detach themselves and become independent. Technology can also develop superficial relationships,” Marcia said.
Guillermo Rodriguez is a City College Mechanical Engineer major and encountered no problems with tech usage: “Technology can be used to improve distance communication, but also replaces face to face interactions.”
“Megabytes!” adds classic humor to a modern topic that mirrors viewpoints that students like Marcia and Rodriguez share. Bobrow believes that just using technology is frustrating, but that everything else about it is beneficial for millennials.
Regardless of your knowledge of technology, “Megabytes! The Musical” touches base on humorous issues anyone could relate to –even techies! It invites you to unplug for an evening of musical fun inspired by the vision of the award winning Morris Bobrow. The musical will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. from now through March 3.