First, let’s not confuse this with the Emoji Movie. That abomination of a film has nothing to do with Emojiland: The Musical, a production that writers Laura Schein and Keith Harrison have been working on for over five years. This musical, which might still be fun for the whole family but not entirely for kids, is a magnificent take on complex emotions despite feeling forced into certain roles. It’s a rom-com, it’s cyberpunk, and more than some of the audience found themselves crying for these emoji-based characters. Why? Because the cast and crew have created something truly original and special.
Emojiland: The Musical Hinges on Real Emotion
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The main character, or one of the two main characters, in Emojiland: The Musical, is Laura Schein’s Smiling-Face-With-Smiling-Eyes. Smize for short. She’s the happiest looking emoji there is. Only, she’s actually very depressed and “blue on the inside.” Her character arch is the glue of the musical, especially when she meets Nerd-Face (George Abud)—a new emoji with more intelligence than smarts. Smize had a lot of other emoji friends, like her boyfriend Sun-Face-With-Sunglasses (Jacob Dickey), or Sunny for short, and Kissy-Face (Heather Makalani). But when Nerd-Face arrives, he’s the only emoji who really sees Smize. Sadly, she’s not the only one who sees him. When Smize’s friends get in the way as all side rom-com characters do, Nerd-Face is seen—by Skull (Lucas Steele), our villain, a nihilistic, suicidal emoji. Yes, this gets deep.
There’s also the beautiful romance between Police-Officer (Felicia Boswell) and Construction-Worker (Natalie Weiss). Not to mention the wise older emoji who guides the wayward characters in their moment of weakness—Pile-of-Poo (Ann Harada). Despite being, literally, two-dimensional characters in our phones, the cast brings them to life in an amazingly relatable way…all while singing.
Two Emojis Kind of Steel the Musical—And that’s Okay
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When we meet Lesli Margherita’s Princess, the show explodes with more energy, especially as she sings her featured song, “Princess is a Bitch.” Margherita is delightful and her character is hilariously wicked. No one could possibly rival her energy…until we meet Josh Lamon’s Prince. When Prince and Princess collide, you just want them to go on forever. Lamon and Margherita have such great chemistry as these weird brother/sister/rivals/friends emojis that it takes Emojiland: The Musical from a really good show to a “yeah, this better get some Tony nominations” show. And not just for them—the entire production. Lamon and Margherita just take the show into the datasphere.
The Production for Emojiland: The Musical is as Brilliant as the Stars
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It would be impossible to touch on every single aspect of the stage production. The set is a magnificent digital city/castle. The lighting makes everything feel dreamlike. The costumes are like…okay, take Mad Max: Fury Road, but through the lens of an eight-year-old girl’s Barbie Dreamhouse. Now, give her some paint and a lot of glitter. Makes no sense? That’s because the look is such a bright, chaotic, brilliance that it just works.
And Emojiland: The Musical is a hit. In fact, they’ve extended the run to March 19th. If you’re in New York City, go see this, for now, Off-Broadway show. It will hopefully be on Broadway soon. Then, tickets are going to be a lot more expensive. It’s currently playing at the Duke on 42nd Street.
(Featured image: Emojiland.com)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.