Unauthorized Musical Parody Series: 10 Things I Hate About You

The 1990s-2000s was a booming time for Shakespeare film adaptations aimed at teenagers. The success of 1996’s Romeo + Juliet spawned Get Over It, She’s the Man, Hamlet, O, and one of my favorite romantic-comedies, 10 Things I Hate About You. Putting Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger firmly in the spotlight, and promoting Joseph Gordon-Levitt from kooky kid actor to heartthrob, 10 Things was an instant classic for teenage girls in the ‘90s. It’s no wonder, then, that the highly successful Unauthorized Musical Parody (of) Series chose the film as its current show’s source material.

I hate the way you talk to me,
and the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car.
I hate it when you stare.

Based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You is a story of bribery, humor, hidden agendas, and romance. Bianca, a popular girl in high school, is not allowed to date boys until her older sister, Kat, does. Smitten Cameron and ill-intentioned Joey, who are both sweet on Bianca, pay loner Patrick to woo the difficult Kat, thus allowing Bianca to date. However, Kat isn’t easily won over, especially when she finds out about Patrick’s payout.

I hate your big dumb combat boots,
and the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick;
it even makes me rhyme.

Writer Kate Pazakis and director Nathan Moore excel in bringing the movie to the stage and infusing the narrative with popular songs that allow their talented cast members to shine. Although UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About You, in my opinion, isn’t as funny as some of UMPO’s past shows (Stranger Things, Jurassic Park), it provides a witty commentary of the film and era, as well as in-jokes for those up-to-date on popular culture. I generally find it harder to translate an already comedic film into a parody than a serious source, which is full of overwrought drama ripe for poking fun at. To me, the funniest moments in UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About Youcome from the creative team thinking outside the script and changing moments and/or characters – adding a romance between Miss Perky and Kat’s dad, for example. That said, they do a fantastic job of bringing the film’s iconic moments to life; it is simply beautiful when Kat reads the titular poem, and uplifting when Bianca falls for the “good” suitor.

UMPO 10 Things - Stephanie renee Wall as Kat - belting
Photo(s) by Bryan Carpender
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Along with excellent shows, I applaud UMPO’s commitment to theming through their specialty drinks available at the bar. I, myself, enjoyed the “Pulsating Bratwurst” and “Reginald’s Quivering Member” cocktails – which were delicious and oh, so much fun to order.

I hate the way you’re always right.
I hate it when you lie.
I hate it when you make me laugh,
even worse when you make me cry.

The cast of UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About You is as vibrant and energetic as ever, as they blaze through ‘90s classics like “I’m Only Happy When it Rains,” “All Star,” and “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman.” Stephanie Renee Wall (Kat) exudes strength and bad-assery as she rebuffs romantic advances and exchanges barbs with her family. Wall’s extensive vocal range is on full display during Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You.” Ashley Argota (UMPO: Clueless), as naïve Bianca, has great chemistry with Stella Kim’s love-struck Cameron (in a cute, and welcome LGBTQ twist on the character), especially during Kim’s amazing rendition of “Iris.” Argota and Wall’s sisters bring ample teenage girl angst during the crowd-pleasing “Don’t Speak.” AJ Mendoza plays bad boy Patrick with a thick Australian accent, and leans into the camp when singing “Down Under” while riding a kangaroo. Mendoza’s duet with Wall on “Crazy” during the iconic paintball scene and him singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” are two highlights from the evening.

The three remaining cast members – Jason Michael Snow, Mathenee Treco, and E.K. Dagenfield (UMPO: Jurassic Park) – take turns stealing the spotlight with their brilliant characterizations. Snow, as ego-maniacal Joey, turns his good looks into pretentious smarm while making fun of film actor Andrew Keegan’s real-life cult-leader status, especially during his rousing “Angel.” Treco is instantly relatable in his dual roles of Cameron’s friend Michael, and Kat and Bianca’s concerned dad. He blows the roof off the stage when he sings “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as he tries to prevent his daughters from dating. My absolute favorite, though, was Dagenfield as teacher and romance novelist Miss Perky. His straight-faced portrayal of the completely over-the-top and raunchy Miss Perky was hysterical; the audience was laughing so hard it was sometimes difficult to hear the actors on stage. While Miss Perky’s “My Neck, My Back” isn’t really necessary to the plot, it sure was delightful to watch.

I hate it when you’re not around,
and the face that you didn’t call.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you.
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.

While UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About You isn’t my favorite from the UMPO Series, it is definitely a production worth seeing. It maintains the high quality and liveliness of past UMPO shows, and is a nostalgic trip full of teenage romance. With nods to the original film, as well as mockery of current real-life controversies, UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About You will have audiences laughing, swooning, and singing along.

UMPO: 10 Things I Hate About You runs at Rockwell Table & Stage through May 12th, tickets available for purchase HERE. Follow UMPO Series on Instagram and Facebook for more info and upcoming shows.

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