Review: “Daria! The Musical” proves there’s no lack of community talent

A group of talented actors and musicians took to the Dog Story Theater stage Monday night to perform the musical episode of the late ’90s cartoon “Daria,” which takes place on season three, episode one.

First starting with a unique concept, the cast was almost perfectly matched with looks, costume and voice to the corresponding cartoon character. Daria’s (Stevie Sahutske) monotone voice was perfectly on key, Brittany’s (Sydney Smith) screechy voice was not missing and the parents, Helen and Jake Morgendorffer (Brooke Heintz and Kevin McCasland) couldn’t have matched much better to their cartoon roles. Even the minor characters with one line were not forgotten, and the crowd was pleasantly surprised as they laughed at all the fine details.

The performance was almost line by line of the episode, accompanied by live music. During transitions, music would play in the background while the cast moved some pieces of the set around. The set was minimal, but still made sense with all the scene changes. Many clearly DIY props were used, which added both to the comedy and the creative effect of the show.

One notable scene is the traffic jam starring McCasland, as Daria’s father is rushing home in the middle of a hurricane worried about his family. Cast members wore cardboard boxes shaped and painted into cars and moved around the stage, making a unique use of a small space for a big scene.

The show was part of a night titled “1999,” which also involved a couple interactive improv skits, all with an overarching ’90s theme. Some audience members showed up in ’90s fashion, while some just came to enjoy the show.

Overall, although the space is small, Director Eirann Betka made excellent use of the space and the individual talents of the cast. It’s obvious this 20-minute musical episode is no easy feat to turn into a live-action musical, but for those who’ve watched the cartoon, they can appreciate the fine-tuned details.

Catch “Daria! The Musical” again at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25. Tickets are $10 at the door, and there are refreshments and snacks available for purchase.

If you’d like to recap the episode before you go, MTV’s “Daria” is available for streaming on Hulu.

Daria! The Musical
Dog Story Theater
7 Jefferson Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
Aug. 21-25