WILKES-BARRE — “Dear kindly Sgt. Krupke, you gotta understand.
It’s just our bringin’ up-ke that gets us out of hand.
Our mothers are all junkies. Our fathers all are drunks.
Golly Moses! Naturally, we’re punks.”
For fans of the musical “West Side Story,” those lyrics likely create a mental picture:
Street kid. Slouching. Leather jacket. Trying to look tough while singing this bit of social commentary to the local beat cop.
Oh, and of course, the singer would be a boy.
Unless you’re in the audience at “Genda Benda: A Broadway Revue with a Twist.”
Presented by The Misfit Players today through Sunday at GAR High School, the revue features young women delivering songs usually sung by males — think of the lion cub Simba describing how he “just can’t wait to be king.”
Or Seymour from “Little Shop of Horrors” offering comfort and a Kleenex to a weepy Audrey.
Or a street gang singing excuses for their bad behavior to Sgt. Krupke who, as portrayed by Michaela Dennis, 15, of Courtdale, repeatedly hit the gang’s lead singer, 19-year-old Maggie Dishong, on the head with the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels.
“I’m not really an aggressive person,” Michaela said with a giggle after rehearsing that number on Tuesday evening.
This show gives its 35 performers lots of chances to stretch the imagination, including several numbers in which guys get in touch with their feminine side.
Jonathan Wallace has a turn as Ariel with “a mermaid’s tail and a gigantic fork — I can’t wait,” he said.
In the “Bend and Snap” number from “Legally Blonde,” a group of young men, led by Tyler Ocasio in the role Reese Witherspoon made famous, will demonstrate how bending over to pick up a dropped object can be done in an attention-grabbing way.
For extra fun, three pairs of moms and daughters, all portrayed by young men, sing about being “a big girl now” in a number from “Hairspray.”
“We have to act bratty,” said William Siejna, 16, of Wilkes-Barre, who has the Tracy Turnblad role. “The girls are giving their mothers a hard time.”
For The Misfit Players, a group of mostly teenage thespians who attend several different schools across the Wyoming Valley, the “Genda Benda” revue is a chance to enjoy songs they otherwise might never get to perform before an audience.
“There’s always a song you really love but normally wouldn’t get a chance to sing,” said Emily Makaravage, 16, of Larksville, who auditioned for the revue by singing “Out There,” a song typically sung by a male actor portraying the hunchback, Quasimodo.
While she’s not singing “Out There” in the revue, she’s having a lot of fun as one of the Jets who give Sgt. Krupke a hard time.
“The show is about two-thirds side-splittingly funny,” director Alice Y. Lyons said, citing a scene in which young men will “run around with dusters” while young women sing a song from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” about how “everyone should have a maid.”
Other songs are poignant and serious, and have a gender-neutral feel, she said. “The emotion is the same, no matter who sings them.”
Tickets for the revue, which is set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the GAR High School auditorium, are $10 at the door, and proceeds will benefit the Coughlin/GAR Players’ spring production of “Ghost, The Musical.”
“It is so important to us,” said Dishong, of Plains Township, who is also a Coughlin/GAR Player. “This is a huge fund-raiser, and we might not be able to have a play without it.”
“We have a passion for it,” echoed her classmate Madison Fick, 18, of Wilkes-Barre, who has been cast to share with Dishong the major role of Oda Mae, the medium, in “Ghost.”