"Ranked": Musical Debuts This Week

Samantha Weber ’25
Samantha Weber '25 is a cast member of “Ranked,” which opens today, Thursday, January 25, at 4:00 p.m., and runs January 26 and 27, at 7:00 p.m., in the Experimental Theater in the Fonseca Center. A group of 30 upper school students in the co-curricular theater program are in the performance and are supported by the technical theater students. Emilie Goodrich, a local education artist, is the show’s director, with guidance from theater teacher Meg O’Connor.

High school is a unique experience, but popular media often depicts the same old tropes: the jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders. 

In reality, high school is much more complex. In 2018, Kyle Holmes, a theater teacher at Granite Bay High School in California, envisioned a musical to amplify the voices of students. Along with composer-lyricist David Taylor Gomes, Holmes created “Ranked,” a musical that premiered in 2019. 

In an interview with Playbill, Holmes said that he watched students struggle under the immense pressure to get good grades, build robust college applications, and maintain their social lives: “I literally had students that would be crying as they tried to do their work or nervously pulling their hair out [while backstage].”

The school where “Ranked” takes place is presented as a caricature of private schools. In this world, finding yourself “below the average” or “at risk of falling below the average” on the public academic leaderboards is akin to a societal death sentence. On the flip side, above-the-average students like Jacquie, the character I play in Masters’ Mainstage production of “Ranked,” enjoy preferential parking, prestigious uniforms and similar privileges in addition to a high social status. 

Without giving too much away, “Ranked” is a show that I wholeheartedly believe every student can relate to in some way. I would even go so far as to declare it a new anthem for students around the world who feel immense pressure to perform well in school. 

“Work Harder,” for example, is one of the songs sung by protagonist Lily Larsen, played by Willow Maniscalco ’24. It communicates a feeling of constant exhaustion with the never-ending workload of school and the idea that, sometimes, students don’t know what they are working toward. “Ranked” does a great job at conveying the individual differences between students, and how there isn’t just one path to happiness, which I see as a very Masters-aligned perspective. 

When I’m asked where I want to go to college or what I plan to do after high school, I don’t have an answer. But, after being part of “Ranked,” I know that this uncertainty is common among high school students. I know that I am not alone in my apprehension and that there are many people just like me who aren’t sure of, well, anything really about their future. 

“Ranked” accomplishes its goal of giving students a platform to express their emotions, on stage, for everyone to see and relate to. It is times like these, when I am proud to be a Masters student, in a community where I know I have a voice. To quote a tagline of the show: “Just breathe. You’ll be fine.”

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