‘Nightmare on Salem Street’ delivers a night full of superb acts, including NEDLAM vs. ‘Freddy’ showdown
Who knew it would take Malden High School’s one and only NEDLAM to do what – count ’em – nine feature films and one television series could not: Cancel Freddy Krueger. The winner (and still champion) MHS mascot’s knockout of the iconic slasher film icon, right there on the Jenkins Auditorium stage during the Class of 2023’s Junior Varieties show, was just one highlight of a night full of superb acts.
This year’s show, with the theme title “Nightmare on Salem Street,” was a takeoff on the classic “…on Elm Street” franchise and did not disappoint, drawing rave reviews from many following the two performances, one each last Friday and Saturday evenings. From the spot-on “Freddy” role played in full Krueger-like costume by Malden High junior Rodrigo Oliveira to a delightfully diverse compilation of acts, ranging from individual vocal and instrumental expressions to several fantastic, authentic costumed dance ensembles, the show impressed from start to finish. There was even a four-piece rock band, “Betta Fish,” which performed a splendid cover of “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys, as well as a “boom-bastic” drum battle that actually had two full drum sets facing each other, snare-to-snare, and the two rival drummers hammering away at each other. The several dance ensembles and another showstopping performance by the heralded A.O. Step Team added so much to the night’s show. The show’s quartet “hosts,” playing the roles made famous way back in 1988, when the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” was in the theatres, were tremendous, including Sarah Boucher, Kauan Da Silva, Damien Josephat and Marianne Rivadeneira.
Listed as a supporting host, Brian Vences nearly stole the show with his on-point, costumed impersonations of – among others – Coach Dan Jurkowski and Chris Mastrangelo, the Principal. In one hilarious sequence, Vences was shuffling across the stage apparently rushing away from the scary Freddy Kruger, when real, in-person Chris Mastrangelo walked out from behind the curtain and across the stage, slowing down to give a sideways, “Who on earth is that” look toward Vences as he passed him on stage. Vences also played the role of NEDLAM, in full lion suit costume, who emerged as the night’s biggest hero when he defeated “Freddy” in the brief bout, KO-ing Kruger with a potent one-two set of punches.
Malden High’s Junior Varieties, which is one of the longest continuous high school-based variety shows of its kind in the nation, was the 83rd in a series which started in 1939. It is traditionally put on by the reigning Junior Class, this year by the Class of 2024. While it once featured only members of the Junior Class, a number of years ago a change was introduced whereby students of any of Malden High’s four classes were allowed to perform.
Two shows were held over this past weekend, both evening times on Friday and Saturday at the historic Thornton Jenkins Auditorium, named after the first-ever MHS principal.
Malden High’s present-day Principal Chris Mastrangelo spared no praise for this year’s show, his fifth while serving in the school’s top post due to one COVID-necessary postponement in his tenure. “It is simply amazing the levels of talent creativity possessed by our MHS students,” Principal Mastrangelo said. “The kids’ performances were outstanding, the execution of the show was flawless, the students in the audience were respectful and enthusiastic in their response and support of all the acts. It was pretty much a perfect night.”
“It was one of the best Junior Varieties I have attended,” the MHS Principal, who has been at the school since the early-to-mid 2000s, said.
Mastrangelo praised the combined efforts of the Junior Class of 2024, its members and Class Advisors – Jess Webber, Shannon Votaw and Kristen Kirby – for such a fantastic production.
In their message to all involved in the 2023 Junior Varieties, which included close to 150, including performers and behind-the-scenes crew, the three advisors wrote in a letter included in the evening’s printed program, “To the Class of 2024: It has been a pleasure working with you all over the past year. Nothing (we have undertaken together) is as big as Junior Varieties.
“Countless hours have been put in by many, so thank you to all the students that have dedicated their time and talent to put on a successful show. We are so proud of you!”
Here are all the performers and crew who worked together so well to make the show a major success
—Kimberlee Smith (“Dandelions” by Ruth B)
—The Orbits: Kiana Tse, Nashakyn Rubert, Elina Vo Hung, Zi, Josh Angulo, Christina Robinson and Sorin Mamouzette, (dancing to “Paint the Town” by Loona)
—Matthew Pareliticci Castano performed “Doctor Gradus” by Debussy on piano
—Habesha Dance Group: Meklit “Meki” Abel, Sammrawitt “Sammy” Mengesha, Addisu Tsige, Haset Tesfau, Micheal Robinson, Yaw Bodia-Achempong, Yeluel Mekonnen, Kisten Karanja (danced to “Benetselay” by David Nega)
—Alyssa Littlejohn and Angelina Feng (two pianists performed “Flower Duet: Sous le dome epais (Act 1, No. 2) from Lakme/Leo Delibes
— Michelle Dang (vocalist) and Ethan Chen (pianist) performed “Take Me to Church” by Hozier
—Kayla Ortiz sang “I Run to You” by Whitney Houston
—Nat & Alex (Natalie Tarantino and Alex Rodriques); Alex sang “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri while Natalie performed an interpretive dance
—A.O. Step Team: Krishany Marius, Clarah Ambroise, Erikah Macharia, Bertha Jean Louis, Victoria Gammon, Giselle Dessert, Tyler Edmond, Sarah Boucher, Lindsay, Bordenave, Saniah Charles, Taisha Balan, Olivia Ivy, Ashley Benfield, Rihanna Champagne, Soleil Mathurin, Christina Anasthal, Samara Perez, Samantha Bien-Aime, Taliyah Lauture, Laura Onyejiaka, Abigaelle Leconte, Jaziarra Antoine (performed with “Runnin’” by 21 Savage)
—Sarah Machado sang “Japanese Denim” by Daniel Caesar
—Alyssa and Erica Littlejohn performed a Classical Piano Duet: “Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in D Major K.381 (Movement 1)” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
—Beetlejuice: James Song, Jason Song, Stephanie Wong and Michael Kenney Sanchez performed a skit and sang “Say my Name” from “Beetlejuice: The Musical”
—Saia Hussain performed a Pakistani Dance
— Finn Sedan and Joao Bererta, the Berkeley Boys, performed a drum-off battle
—Angelina Feng performed an homage to the Chinese Opera “Devastation and Redemption”
—Afro-Caribbean Dance Group: Erickah Macharia, Giselle Dessert, Victoria “Tori” Gammon, Taisha Balan, Saniah Charles, Soleil Mathurin, Olivia Ivy, Kennedy Clark and Sarah Boucher
—Betta Fish rock ensemble: Jennifer Slawson (Vocals), Sean Retotal (Bass Guitar), Slade Harding (Lead Guitar) and Beverly Tong (Drums) performed “R U Mine?” by Arctic Monkeys
Stage Crew, Lighting, Costumes and Script Writers
Hosts: Sarah Boucher, Kauan Da Silva, Damien Josephat, Marianne Rivadeneira.
Supporting Hosts: Rodrigo Oliveira, Brian Vences.
Sound: Xander Hassan, Beatriz Santos, Nyema Jean-Jacques.
Stage Lights: Kayla Morello.
Spotlights: Tenyah Bazley, Christina Charles, Benjamin Perez, Racha Oumark, Ana Luiza Antunes.
Stage Manager: Abigail Morrison.
Backstage Coordinator: Francis Doza.
Backstage: Daniel O’Toole, Marge Rosas, Jelani Tah.
Set/Costume Design: Frankie Carvalho, Benjamin Perez, Marge Rosas.
Script Writers: Tyler Edmond, Jackson Gordon, Ericah Macharia, Abigail Morrison, Beatriz Santos.
CLASS of 2024 OFFICERS
President: Meklit “Meki” Abel.
Vice President: Makeila Scott.
Secretary: Abdullah Khan.
Treasurer: Larissa Retamero Granja.
Social Media Coordinators: Shuyi Chen and Keira Lin.
Junior Varieties Coordinators: Tyler Edmond and Ericah Macharia.