Musicals in the Media: The EVEN STEVENS Musical Episode

Musicals in the Media: The EVEN STEVENS Musical Episode

By Kathryn Harris on March 23, 2010
This is part of a series looking at musical theatre in television and the movies.

The long-reigning master of animated musical feature films, Disney knows full well how to use music to tell a story onscreen.  The Disney Channel original series, EVEN STEVENS, is a prime example of this. As is common of musical episodes, the musical numbers are the result of a character's imagination: in this instance, it's overachieving Ren Stevens.  Too sick to go to school - despite her protests to the contrary - Ren is in bed, watching a musical, when suddenly she finds herself at school after all, listening to the principal sing the morning announcements.  Out in the hall, her brother boasts in song about how he's going to get out of gym class, and at lunch, Ren's friends remind her that they have a big science presentation due at sixth period...which Ren is horribly unprepared for.  After failing to gather more research, Ren sings her presentation about the 1969 moon landing, which earns her an F. Shocked and devastated, Ren wakes up to discover it was all a dream.

"Influenza: The Musical" is a fun, lighthearted episode that offers a glimpse into Ren's worst fear.  Since the numbers are all fantasy numbers, the choreography is appropriately cheesy and over the top.  The songs are integrated quite well within the script and storyline, while being highly entertaining.  The score would improve from some musical variety, however; all the songs are upbeat and each has a similar tempo, which can feel a little tiring.

But each song is completely appropriate for its scene and relays a fair amount of information, particularly the principal's sung morning announcements.

"Sixth Period," a typical chain finale often used to end a first act, uses song to show Ren's panic - heightened by the inclusion of other students, the principal, and Ren's parents.

Overall, "Influenza: The Musical" is an entertaining diversion in the EVEN STEVENS storyline, giving the audience a fun look into Ren's mind.