Lately, I read a New York Times article tearing apart the pop-rock musical We Are The Tigers. And yes, the journalist did make some completely fair points, but a lot of them felt unsupported. So, here I am to make an argument for We Are The Tigers. Disclaimer: I do not intend to attack Ms. Vincentelli. I think she’s a great writer (from the article I read by her, at least.) I just saw plenty of articles arguing against this musical, and I decided it’s time to give this musical the praise it deserves, since it has plenty of criticism. By no means do I think this is the best musical ever. However, I do believe it deserves a better reputation than it currently has.
First, let’s discuss the characters. While there are plenty of characters that aren’t very fleshed out, even those couple characters have stellar performances. By far, the one who steals the stage is Wonu Ogunfowora as Cairo, who is, as she describes herself herself, Cairo’s ‘last year’s prom princess, this year’s prom queen.” A little teen-movie-esque? Yes, but that shouldn’t tear down your view of the show. Other notable performances include Sydney Parra, who plays Eva Sanchez (One of only 4 characters to get a last name, notably- the other three being Kate, Riley, and Mattie), the replacement to the team after two members get killed. Each character has their own well-written story plot, either being attached to the story- as is Mattie’s story of being implicated in the murders, or Cairo’s in her and Riley’s friendship falling apart right in front of her eyes- or loosely connected- as is Kate’s story of dealing with her best friend going to college, or Annleigh’s of trying to connect her religious identity with her growing attraction to her boyfriend, Clark.
Next, I would like to discuss the plot- my main criticism of the musical. On paper, the plot reads like a stereotypical teen movie, but with the addition of homicide. Without going into spoilers, the premise of the musical is a high school sleepover for the cheerleading squad (who is the lowest ranking in their state) where 2 teammates get murdered during the course of the night. It’s a cute story, and the killer’s motives actually make perfect sense (in a teenager’s eyes.). It’s laced with character-based subplots, such as Annleigh’s struggle to balance her religious identity and her attraction to her boyfriend in the song Forever, Cairo and Riley’s fading friendship in Wallflower, and Kate’s struggle to deal with the fact that her best friend is going to college shown in Skype Tomorrow. It could be fleshed out a little bit more, but it’s interesting.
I do not believe this musical is Broadway-bound. With some work on the songs that currently exist, and some new songs that propel the story further (So far, there are only 5 that come to mind- maybe six. Out of the seventeen songs in the album, that’s about one third of the songs being story-based), however, I believe this musical could one day make it to Broadway.