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Movie review: ‘Most Valuable Players’ examines the H.S. musical

Those who can’t get enough of the tuneful teen spirit of the high school song-and-dance series “Glee” might want to check out Matthew D. Kallis’ relentlessly peppy documentary “Most Valuable Players,” which shines a big, bright spotlight on the musical madness surrounding three high school productions in Lehigh Valley, Pa.

If the theater kids and their adult directors at Freedom High are a little more animated than a typical school putting on their “Bye Bye Birdie” — as neighboring Parkland and Emmaus are with their dueling versions of “Les Miserables” (ouch!) — it’s because lying in wait are the Freddys: a Tonys-style live-television bash singling out the region’s star talent.

The movie’s point about having to bring sports-style competitive pizazz to woefully underfunded arts education is a solid one, but the documentary is a bit like an exhausting cheerleader: all excitement and no oomph. There are a handful of wonderful personalities whose well-spoken enthusiasm would do theater geeks and classroom art aspirants proud, but little behind-the-scenes nuance to give breathing room to all the award mania frenzy.

For all its worthwhile intentions, “Most Valuable Players” stokes dreams of adulation too often at the expense of showing a creative end pursued for its own good.


“Most Valuable Players.” MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. At the ArcLight Hollywood.


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