LLF: Don’t Trust the Boyz! – BCA Talent Truly Shines



There’s one thing we all know about students at Bergen County Academies: they love high school so much, they never want to leave (or rather, a part of them is stuck here forever). After more than a year without live performances, BCA’s theater department is back with an original musical “Loves Labours Found (LLF): Don’t Trust the Boyz!.” an imaginary sequel to Shakespeare’s iconic “Loves Labours Lost.” The show is a workshopped version of a play by the same name and was created by 32 BCA students and a theater alumni in the Spring of 2018. The world premiere will be held at BCA this week with four shows: two evening performances March 3rd, and 4th, and a matinee and evening performance on Match 5th.

When the CEO of the #1 global record company, Lance Agité Records, mysteriously dies, his daughter, Princess, is left to decide which band to sign next. Will it be the safe choice of the bland Christian boy band, Don’t Trust the Boyz, or JacQui B., an up-and-coming rapper who speaks her truth? The play simultaneously addresses larger topics including world peace, homogeneity, and diversity in the mix of mad scientists, boy band merchandise, and the discovery of prions. 

In her director notes on the show, Ms. Pero writes, “As smart, thoughtful, opinionated, passionate students wrangled over this ancient comedy, a potent brew began to emerge in the face of contemporary headlines. The way to make sense of our increasingly bizarre world was to write something even more inane, comic and ultimately hopeful.”
“Don’t Trust the Boyz!” is a high-energy production full of fun, electric, and sometimes psychedelic scenes. It is non-stop craziness. The Academy Chronicle was lucky enough to be able to get a preview of the show on Wednesday afternoon. After watching it, there is only one word fit to describe the style: Camp. The production plays off its eccentric characters, and even the background dancers are eye-catching, climbing on the sides of the stage supports and sometimes sporting blue morph suits.

“It is wildly fun to watch: every second is crazy, colorful, and vibrant,” said Alex Confino, a senior in the Academy for Visual Performing Arts – Theater (AVPA/T) who plays a member of the boy band. “The makeup, the costumes, the choreography, the lighting, everything is so thoughtfully placed and the acting is so authentic.” 

In a moment’s notice the audience is transported to what truly feels like a live concert, with bright colorful lighting, engaging dance numbers, and powerful vocals, all accompanied by BCA’s wonderful pit orchestra (conducted by Mr. Lemma and Mr. Isecke). The score for the show was written by 2012 BCA theater alumni, Ben Chavez, and his writing partner Yianni Papadimos, especially for this 2022 production. 

What made this version of the production special was the attention to detail. Lynn Cheng, an AVPA/T junior, and her costume design team gave each character a uniquely styled wardrobe with Camp outfits that help establish the individuality of each character in a jam-packed show.

Specifically, Jacqui B. (played with immense stage presence by AVPA/T senior Isabel Shi) has three costumes, two of which are variations of a sparkly bodysuit with a peacock-like trail, and the third of which includes graffiti of banned words, clearly identifying Jacqui B. as a rebel.

Armado, an Edna-Mode-like fashion designer performed by Daniel Simpson on Wednesday, donned an over-the-top purple ensemble with a cape and feathers followed by a blonde wig and white cape before appearing on-stage with a pregnancy belly. Simpson also gave one of the funnier performances of the night, at one point sending characters on-and-off-stage in costumes galore with pop-culture references. The dance ensemble also gave a fantastic performance during his song and in the final battle of the bands scene.

The blue triplets, portrayed by Alex Newman, Hannah Shinder, and Sage Placer, also had notable comedic performances. Their funniest moments were often in the background, goofing off with silly chaotic antics as their aunt, portrayed by Jocelyn Oberle, tried to continue serious conversations. Dull and Costard, played by Jack Glass and Ella Goldstein respectively, provided a different kind of comedy relief in addition to a strong vocal number.

Princess, played by Lora Bednarek, and mad scientist Maria, played by Sarah Cassell (in the Wednesday preview) both gave remarkable performances with strong vocals and acting. The roles allowed the two to play off of each other well in the final showdown of the musical, and we would have loved to see them interact more on-stage. Bednarek and Cassell showed impressive abilities to ground the scene with tension amidst the highly metaphoric visuals.

Holofernes (a Dr.-Doofenshmirtz-esque character played by Emily Walker), Nathaniel (a business kid played by Naija Vega), and the UN Secretary General (Luna Taveras) all were entertainingly nefarious in their scenes, and the musical really benefited from how much they leaned into the cartoon villainy of their characters.

An advantage to working on a musical written by alumni is the creative flexibility given to all of the characters. Many of the students were heavily involved in the characterization of their roles, which came through in the strong acting performances. Cassell, an AVPA/T junior, told us about the special connection she developed with her character.  “The most fun I’ve ever had in acting was when we all got to break apart and write our own scenes and figure out what we wanted in the scene. It was just ‘completely improv and channel your character and we’ll take it from there.’” 

Confino added: “It transforms and evolves and molds the actor. This show would be different if there were different kids playing these roles. It’s a unique experience because it’s this specific group of people. And that’s what’s so exciting: after this weekend you’ll never see the same exact show again.”

The play ended with a bang, leaving us wanting to see even more of the characters in action. While we wished the fast-paced musical had left a few more moments for us to catch a breath, Ms. Pero and the team have done a fantastic job holding our attention. Impressive performances from the cast, pit, and crew make the show worth a watch.

All the students in the cast shared excited feelings for returning back to live performances after the pandemic, and during Wednesday’s preview, they all seemed to be having the time of their lives on stage together. In fact, the energy of the crowd and thrill of performing with live music is something we’ve all missed.

“It all comes together at the end of the show and it feels so authentic and raw – and that’s what the theater magic really is,” said Confino. “And that’s why I would say come and see the show.”




Thu (Mar. 3): 6:30 pm 

Fri (Mar. 4): 7:00 pm

Sat (Mar. 5): 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm



$15 for students  OR  4 / $20 deal (sold during lunch periods)


Buy online: https://search.seatyourself.biz/webstore/accounts/bergen/buy-tix?landingMessageSeen=true&priceCode=#evt=4EA4AE4753E1FC1E22C3B0037190F48F&sc=2&sp=ANY&tab=select-seats/