Claudio Quest jumps to the stage

TheatreMcLean’s most recent production is a hit for viewers and for the cast


Philip Rotondo

Fish, Claudio and Luis deliver a musical number together.

TheatreMcLean pressed start on Claudio Quest, a blackbox musical. Initially opening on Friday, Feb. 10, tickets sold out almost a week before the show started, prompting TheatreMcLean to add an extra date on Thursday, Feb. 9.

“[The audience] really matched our energy and it really helped enhance the whole thing,” said Miranda Simpson, who played Princess Fish in the show. “It was really exciting to do it in front of an audience with teenagers in it, and get that energy back, which fueled us to go.”

The show is a lighthearted parody of the Mario video games, following the story of Luis, played by Nathan Bass, a hero who comes into his own after spending life in the shadow of his beloved older brother, Claudio, portrayed by Noah Chlan. Taking place in the blackbox instead of the auditorium, the show was driven by a particularly intimate connection between the audience and the cast.

“I really liked it. The cast was really really impressive, and they’re all really talented,” junior Meera Shah said. “I really liked Luis. I think that Nathan did a really good job with that part. He connected with the part really well.”

The actors emphasized the importance of the audience in making the show work.

“The crowd was super energetic, and that really feeds energy to us [on stage],” Audrey Link, who played Princess Poinsettia, said. “[My favorite scene is] the one that Miranda and I sang together, More Than One Way to Be a Princess, which is when the sisters are coming together and reconciling their differences. It’s always super fun every night. I love singing with her, and the contrast between our two characters is so fun to play with.”

Another favorite scene for the actors was River World, which relied on the cast’s expert ability to interact with one another on stage.

“I really enjoyed the River World scene, the first one [Fish] goes on the quest with the boys,” Simpson said. “The energy is so good and I just love working with Noah and Nathan. They’re the best, so it’s awesome to get to work with them.” 

The show was full of twists, with the first act ending on the cliffhanger death of Claudio. He later returns to perform a musical number from beyond the grave.

“[My favorite song is] Keep Moving Right. It’s a fun song where I’m encouraging Luis,” Chlan said. “I get to riff a lot, and you get to see some other video game characters.”

The darker comedic undertones of the plot challenged the actors, who had to capture a wide range of emotions throughout the show.

“Some of the sadder scenes are ones I’ve had to rehearse quite a bit, like when Y dies and again when Fish dies,” Bass said. “A lot of those things require a lot of being in character and actually connecting to the grief and the emotion of the character.”

Ultimately, Claudio Quest’s lively atmosphere, upbeat music and jokes made it a joyful and rewarding experience for the cast.

“Everyone went out there and had a blast performing the show,” Bass said. “It was overall pretty smooth and I felt good.”

To read the Cappies’ reviews of Claudio Quest, click here.