Hysterical! – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Thrown Stone Theatre Company wants you to dig out your pom poms and prepare to cheer for the New England premiere of “Hysterical!” by Elenna Stauffer. While the art of cheerleading began in Great Britain in the 1860’s, it took two decades more to travel across the pond to America. In 1884, Princeton men decided to raise school spirit by cheering at football games and the dance and gymnastic routines keep merrily rolling along. Now women, millions of them, continue the tradition in the United States alone, beginning in the 1920’s to this day.

Come become acquainted with Shannon Helene Barnes, Olivia Billings, Julia Crowley, Kendyl Grace Davis and Isa Muino as they practice their routines, dances and a new pyramid formation to cheer on their high school teams to victory. These teenage girls build friendships and relationships as they work to form a cohesive force of spirit and camaraderie. Shannon as a senior and captain has the task to keep them all working together as a team, while Maddie as the freshman member struggles with her assigned grunt work, trying to prove her worth. Madison is the dancer determined to make her value clear who will not tolerate anyone who stands in her way. Meanwhile Charlotte is busy waiting in the wings to be captain next year and is working to overcome family issues while Mia is the first one to suddenly exhibit strange physical tics that alarm all the girls and their classmates.

No one, not even doctors, can diagnose the ailments that start with Mia and soon transfer to Shannon and Charlotte. Alarms bordering on hysteria consume the school mates and families. Is it Tourette’s Syndrome or a rare neurological condition? What happens when two of the girls recover and the third doesn’t? How will these medical issues affect events like going to prom or bigger concerns like graduating high school and getting into college? Can the team survive all the suspicions and in-flighting? Tracy Brigden directs into intriguing drama that has inferences similar to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

For tickets ($40-59), call Thrown Stone Theatre, at the Ridgefield Conservatory fo Dance, 440 Main Street, Ridgefield at 203-442-1714 or online at thrownstone.org. Performances alternate with “Athena” by Gracie Gardner until August 6. Proof of vaccination and ID and masks are required.

Join the pep rally that reveals a unique coming of age story that you will not soon forget.