'Most Valuable Players'
(John Andreadis, Frank Anonia, Shelley Brown, et al / DVD / NR / 2012 / Virgil Films & Entertainment)
Overview: Across the USA, high school sports are regularly lavished with funding, publicity and scholarships, while theater departments struggle to put on the school musical hoping for some attention of their own. It's no different in the sports crazy Lehigh Valley, PA, except for the "Freddy Awards," a live television event that recognizes excellence in local high school musical theater!
DVD Verdict: 'Most Valuable Players' is one of the most joyful documentaries I have ever seen. I saw this film nearly a year ago at Docuweek (LA), and was hoping to see it again on DVD. I found it to be even more entertaining and enlightening the second time around. There are also lots of great extras including Filmmaker Commentary, Deleted Scenes and a Cast Reunion segment.
'The film opens accessing support for the arts in sports crazy Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. A newspaper editor states that more column inches are devoted to sports than any thing else in his newspaper, and millions are spent to maintain sports facilities, with little to nothing being spent on the arts. But as we learn from this thoroughly engaging doc, high school theater is also a team sport.
The film follows three high schools: Freedom, Emmaus and Parkland, and their talented students leading up to the Super Bowl of local musical theater, the Freddy Awards. The brainchild of State Theater CEO Shelly Brown, the annual Freddy's bring together 27 area high schools, as they compete for Tony like honors. All of which, including the nominations, is broadcast live on TV and streamed on the Internet to huge audiences.
Freedom High soccer standout and drama geek, John Andreadis, illustrates that there is no conflict between sports and the arts, when adults step aside and let the kids find their way. His parents are supremely understanding and supportive once they realize that the two disciplines are compatible.
His drama teacher Jennifer Wesco makes sure that every one of her drama students understands that they do theater for themselves first and foremost, not for trophies and accolades. Parkland High director, Mark Stutz and Emmaus director Jill Kuebler are wonderfully honest and open cheerleaders for their students, as their two schools battle it out at the Freddy's, each with 16 nominations for their competing Les Mis productions.
It's the kids that profoundly demonstrate that their love for theater transcends all when they join together at what is truly their theater all-star game, The Freddy's. [PBW] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
"Freddy Fever" Clip