Whatever happened to boy meets girl, boy gets girl, the end (or boy meets boy or any other pairing)? Why must boy meet girl and screw things up 10 times over before finally getting her? That may be the way the world and high school work, but typically the theatrical arc concludes after the first meet-get scenario. Drawn-out relationships are for long-running television series, not musical theater, and this two-and-a-half-hour undertaking could use some cuts. All the typical high schoolers are present: overachieving popular girl, class slut, emo cutter, studly jock, bullied gay boy, etc. Some characters have a less defined archetype, and they appear to exist solely to complete the couples.
Alvarez, who also directs, uses gratuitous nudity that serves no character or plot purpose. (The one moment that is crucial to the story line isn't even shown.) John Dunnett's barebones set could use more personality, but his costumes are perfect for each character.
Abbe Tanenbaum and Daniel Quadrino are the standouts of a promising cast. Tanenbaum fuses Reese Witherspoon's characters in "Election" and "Legally Blonde" as Hannah, who balances her perfect-princess act with a conniving desire to win the school president race. Tanenbaum's crystal clear vocals are on a par with any Broadway ingénue, and she delivers her song "Shake and Bake" with perfect comic timing.
As Joe, Quadrino has the best song in the show, "I Stalk You A Little Bit," in which Joe fantasizes about the most popular boy in school. "Trouble" is worth exploring just so more people can hear this great song and to put Quadrino on a bigger stage. The rest of the cast is definitely talented, though some are greener than others. The eight-person ensemble executes Jennifer Weber's modern choreography well, and though it seems extraneous in some scenes, the dancing is a nice addition to the show.
There are only so many ways to tell the woes of high school. It's definitely a subject that should be put on stage, but "Trouble" needs further development. This iteration works best as a showcase for promising new talent. See these young actors before they make it big.
Presented by Phillip Rudy as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., NYC. July 14–18. Remaining performances: Sun., July 15, 5 and 9 p.m.; Wed., July 18, 5 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, or www.nymf.org.