Team StarKid is a loosely-organised musical theatre production troupe, originally from Ann Arbor, based in Chicago for the majority of their existence, and currently found in Los Angeles, who are famous for making A Very Potter Musical.
The group began as friends who met while studying at the University of Michigan and did several projects together, usually in conjunction with Basement Arts, before hitting surprise mainstream success through A Very Potter Musical.
Their original musical Me and My Dick broke records as it became the first college musical to break into Billboard's Cast Albums chart, debuting at number 11. In July 2010, the group released A Very StarKid Album, a compilation album featuring songs from the Harry Potter musicals, Little White Lie, Me and My Dick and some original music; it rose to number 27 on the iTunes charts, beating out Lady Gaga and the Glee soundtrack for a little while. In late 2010, Team StarKid relocated to Chicago in order to establish a repertory theatre company, where they achieved success as a major part of the Chicago comedy and indie theatre scene throughout the 2010s.
The troupe split in 2016 after the release of Firebringer, with about half the core members moving to Los Angeles while the other half remained in Chicago, with the Los Angeles crew (which included the Lang Brothers, the primary writing team behind the troupe since the beginning) being the ones to move forward with the "Starkid" brand name.
Their official website and links to their projects, music and merchandise can be found on the website.
Their projects are:
- Little White Lie (2007) — a "pre-Starkid" webseries
- Very Potter trilogy
- Me and My Dick (2009)
- Starship (2011)
- Holy Musical B@man! (2012)
- Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier (2013)
- Ani: A Parody (2014)
- The Trail to Oregon! (2014)
- Firebringer (2016)
- The Digitour: In 2011, Team StarKid were part of the Digitour, a travelling tour of musicians and acts who became famous via YouTube. Joey Richter, Brian Holden, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Lauren Lopez, Joe Walker, Dylan Saunders and A.J. Holmes performed songs from AVPM and AVPS, Me and My Dick and Starship in front of live audiences.
- Funtastic Slamaganza: In 2011, Team StarKid had a charity event to benefit Snow City Arts. It was a variety performance featuring most of the members of Team StarKid who live in Chicago. It included songs from the musicals, songs by Jim and the Povolos, Standup by Meredith Stepien, as well as other acts by the StarKids. This is also where the first announcement was made confirming A Very Potter Senior Year for 2012.
- The SPACE Tour: Similar to the Digitour and Funtastic Slamaganza, the SPACE Tour is a performance of various StarKid songs that toured through the U.S. Midwest and East Coast. Charlene Kaye, who is a friend of most of the members of Team StarKid from college, is opening on the tour. The tour includes the eastern United States and London... Ontario. A concert album of the New York City show was released on March 13, 2012. A DVD based on the tour including behind-the-scenes footage was released later that month on the 24th.
- Apocalyptour: StarKid's second national tour, which is more story driven than the SPACE Tour. The StarKids, having given up singing and dancing, have turned to their true passion of archaeological digs until they unearth the Mayan God of Chaos and Death, Margaret, who is ready to bring about the 2012 apocalypse. Fortunately, Margaret is also the Mayan God of Musical Theater, and gives the StarKids a chance to save the world by putting on a concert. Unlike the SPACE Tour, Apocalyptour visited several venues on the West Coast.
- The Starkid Jangle Ball Holiday Tour: 2022 holiday concert tour with a "naughty and nice" theme, featuring villain songs and songs from A VHS Christmas Carol. Part of the Starkid Returns fundraiser.
- Airport For Birds (And Other Great Ideas): The team's first sketch show presented in partnership with Second City Chicago in January-March 2013.
- 1-Night-2-Last-3-Ever: A second sketch show which was performed in Fall 2013. It centered around the fictional boy band 3Ever and featuring sketches based around 1990's culture and nostalgia.
Other works of note:
- The StarKid Announcement Videos: The secondary purpose of these semi-regular videos is to inform people of the dates, times and locations of upcoming shows, answer frequently-asked-questions, pimp the StarKid merchandise and let fans know about changes to the website or other things. The main purpose of these videos is to make you laugh your ass off.
- Jim and the Povolos: Meredith Stepien had the idea in 2011 to take Starkid members who also played instruments and develop a spinoff act as a band, named in honor of Jim Povolo (who is, despite the name, not part of the regular lineup). Members include Clark Baxtresser, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Nick Gage, Brian Holden, Lauren Lopez, Dylan Saunders, Meredith Stepien, and Mark Swiderski. Began as an opening act for their friend Charlene Kaye and a "supporting act" for Team Starkid proper on the SPACE Tour. Released an EP, The Holiday Club, in 2011, and in 2017 finally cut a full-length album, Make Party.
- Starkid Takes Manhattan: The fifth anniversary of AVPM, with songs from all of their previous shows, including Twisted.
- Starkid Summer Season 2014: In addition to performing The Trail to Oregon! and Ani: A Parody the team also put on various shows on a smaller-scale. These shows were performed late at night after the musicals and ranged from sketch comedy, to stand up, to dance and everything in between.
- A Very Starkid Reunion: A show performed at the University of Michigan in October 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UMich School of Music, Theater and Dance. Unlike the SPACE Tour and Apocalyptour, this show brought back most of the original actors from all of Starkid's past stage shows to recreate classic musical numbers in full — including bringing back long-absent Starkid and UMich alum Darren Criss.
- Starkid Summer Season 2016: Similar to the 2014 season, the team used late night shows to offset the cost of producing Firebringer.
- Movies, Musicals and Me: A somewhat bizarre side project, originating as a two-man show with Esther Fallick and Clark Baxtresser in LA in July 2016, then expanded and rereleased as a Web show on YouTube in 2017. Produced by Esther Fallick, Clark Baxtresser, Pierce Siebers, Nick Lang and Brian Holden. In a parody of All Musicals Are Adaptations, the show takes place in a world where every popular film ever released has been adapted into a musical, from The Godfather to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and, moreover, one starring a very old-fashioned campy Broadway diva named Halpert Evans. The show is presented as a greatest hits showcase of Evans' career, with Esther Fallick playing Halpert Evans and Clark Baxtresser as his longtime accompanist and biggest fan Courtney. Includes appearances from Starkid regulars Jaime Lyn Beatty, Corey Dorris, Brian Holden, Nick Lang, Lauren Lopez, Joey Richter, and Dylan Saunders, along with Mary Kate Wiles from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
- Starkid Homecoming: Starkid's most ambitious reunion concert yet, reuniting forty of Starkid's past performers including Darren Criss and the original Hermione, Bonnie Gruesen Socha, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of A Very Potter Musical for one night only in Los Angeles, July 25, 2019 (later expanded to two nights due to popularity and the Kickstarter reaching over $547,000).
- The Tin Can Brothers: A spinoff sketch comedy troupe consisting of Joey Richter, Corey Lubowich, and Brian Rosenthal. They created Spies are Forever, The Solve-It Squad Returns! and Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye.
- Starry is a musical about the life of Vincent van Gogh by Starkid musical director for The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals and Black Friday Matt Dahan in collaboration with writer/lyricist Kelly D'Angelo, that has featured several Starkid regulars as cast members. It's been in workshop since 2017 in LA and has had a successful concert series in New York, but as of yet has never had a full stage run. The Concept Album was released in January 2020 and is the easiest way for a member of the public to experience the show, available on most streaming services, and stars Dylan Saunders as Vincent Van Gogh, with Starkid members Mariah Rose Faith as Jo Bonger, Jaime Lyn Beatty as Émile (or "Émilie") Bernard, and Jeff Blim as Paul Gauguin.
- Broadway Jackbox: During the COVID-19 Pandemic, several Starkid members appeared on one of the Broadway Jackbox livestreams as a fundraiser for The Actors' Fund, hosted by Andrew Barth Feldman and Alex Bonniello from the cast of Dear Evan Hansen, which was the beginning of integrating Andrew, a longtime fan, into the "Starkid family".
- Starkid Livestreams: As a way to keep busy during the COVID-19 Pandemic, in early 2020 Robert Manion organized some informal livestreams of the Starkids reading classic films from their childhood: Scream, Hocus Pocus, and Addams Family Values. (In keeping with the newfound Horror Comedy direction of Starkid as a troupe, all of these films are somewhere on the Horror Comedy spectrum.) All of the livereads are accompanied by the amazing improvisational skills of Starkid music director Matt Dahan on keyboard. They can be found here:
- Scream, read April 11, 2020, with Jaime Lyn Beatty as Casey Becker, Mariah Rose Faith as Sidney Prescott, Lauren Lopez as Gail Weathers, Joey Richter as Billy Loomis, Angela Giarratana as Tatum Riley, Jon Matteson as Dewey Riley, Jeff Blim as Stu Macher, Corey Dorris as Randy Meeks, Nick Lang as the voice of Ghostface, and Robert Manion as the stage directions.
- Hocus Pocus, read May 1, 2020, with Robert Manion as Thackery Binx, Jaime Lyn Beatty as Winifred Sanderson, Angela Giarratana as Mary Sanderson, Lauren Lopez as Sarah Sanderson, Joey Richter as Max Dennison, Nick Lang as Dani Dennison, Corey Dorris as Billy the Butcher, Jeff Blim as Mr. Binx and the Bus Driver, Mariah Rose Faith as Allison, and Jon Matteson as the stage directions.
- Addams Family Values, read May 13, 2020, with Kim Whalen as Morticia Addams, Joey Richter as Gomez Addams (and, memorably, Thing), Jeff Blim as Fester Addams, Mariah Rose Faith as Wednesday Addams, Andrew Barth Feldman as Pugsley Addams, Lauren Lopez as Debbie Jelinski, Angela Giarratana as Amanda Buckman, Nick Lang as Gary Granger, Jaime Lyn Beatty as Becky Martin-Granger, Jon Matteson as Joel Glicker, and Robert Manion as the stage directions (and Lurch).
- A "Starkid-adjacent" show, Royalties, premiered on sadly short-lived streaming service Quibi on May 31st, 2020, produced by and starring Darren Criss alongside Kether Donohue from You're the Worst, with the Lang Brothers hired as writers and a mixture of A-list celebrity guests and Starkid troupe members as guest stars. Considered a Spiritual Successor to Little White Lie, it's about the unsung travails of songwriters in the music industry stuck composing music for much-more-famous performers for a living.
- Starkid worked with Andrew Barth Feldman again for his successor to Broadway Jackbox, Broadway Whodunit, a series of Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre-style LARPs to once again raise money for The Actors' Fund, as the cast of TV or Not TV?, performed on October 4th.
- A VHS Christmas Carol is a 2020 short-form Green Screen project written as an experiment in doing a "fully produced" video during the COVID-19 Pandemic, portraying the classic Charles Dickens novel as a set of Concept Album Music Videos from The '80s. Also serves as a Reunion Show for the "first generation" of Starkid actors, bringing back several performers who hadn't appeared in a Starkid show since the Lang Brothers moved their base to LA with The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals.
- VHS Christmas Carol: Live!: A live, expanded concert staging of the same musical, which played the Bourbon Room in Los Angeles from December 9-11, 2021. Posted on Youtube in 2022.
See Team Starkid Members for a list of regulars and collaborators.
Tropes associated with the works of Team StarKid:
- Adaptation Deviation: Nick Lang gave an interview describing Starkid's Origin Story, where the University of Michigan's Basement Arts program initially didn't allow original scripts and so he did a "stealth parody" of The Hobbit by submitting the script of an existing Played Straight stage adaptation of the book for approval and then making so many jokey changes to the script it ended up an In Name Only adaptation. Holy Musical B@man! originates from an attempt to do a similar reworking of the musical It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman! in college.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: Played with in that their adaptations are unlicensed parodies. Averted with Me and My Dick, Starship, and Firebringer, which are original. As of the Hatchetfield saga, they're not doing parodies anymore. A VHS Christmas Carol is a completely straight example, being an only slightly-parodic opera adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
- Breakup Breakout:
- Averted. There were fears that Team StarKid might fall apart without Darren Criss' involvement, but the group has gone on to be even stronger than before (and Criss does participate in projects with them when he has time to).
- And again when half the crew, including Nick Lang who owns the name, moved to Los Angeles and the other half elected not to. Since then, the Hatchetfield franchise has proved a resounding success and gotten the crew a huge wave of new fans, plus plenty of former members still contribute to projects such as StarKid Homecoming and A VHS Christmas Carol.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Starting with Firebringer, Nick Lang has said he wants to move the troupe away from pop culture parody musicals, which were a The New '10s fad (that Starkid helped pioneer) that's kind of played out now. Even though it still had Starkid's trademark irreverent poop jokes, Firebringer actually tried to have a serious social message. The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals followed up that as a Horror Comedy with surprisingly dark undertones, and Black Friday goes even darker.
- Creator Thumbprint
- Apparently the writers like creating villains that are redeemed by love, along with having at least one villain who receives karmatic retribution in the end.
- They use Ho Yay a great deal. Holy Musical B@man! takes this up to eleven.
- They have a tendency to write Real After All reveals, like Pigfarts and Cornwallis.
- If organized religion appears or is referenced, expect it to be mercilessly ridiculed. In the future, God Is Dead; in the 1800s, God is a vicious, two-faced prick; in the distant past, religion is a lie used to manipulate simpleminded cave-people; in Hatchetfield, God answers the least convenient prayers (and the Christian denominations hate each other); and at Hogwarts, God is a wizard and Harry's favorite class is Satanic Rituals.
- Puppet Shows: At least half of their shows feature a puppet or two, and Starship is chock full of them.
- Cross-Cast Role: Very common throughout their body of work, but for laughs, rather than any practical reason. While a longtime staple of their work, they eventually decided to stop casting male actors as female characters, as they find it transphobic and now consider it an Old Shame that they ever did so, particularly those portrayals meant to come across as comically creepy like that of Dolores Umbridge. For some reason, perhaps under the principle of "punching up", they have not stopped casting female actors as male characters, even occasionally still using that for the creep factor, such as with Sherman in Black Friday.
- Fan Community Nicknames: Mostly, it's "Starkids". "The Hive" has also popped up for fans of the Hatchetfield universe specifically.
- Dylan Saunders is actually Jewish, but he cranked it up for Dumbledore.
- It can be assumed from Lauren Lopez's last name that she has at least some Hispanic ancestry, but she exaggerates it as Taz.
- Filmed Stage Production: Nearly all of their productions are filmed and posted for free on the company's YouTube channel. In some cases, such as with Black Friday, fans can pay for early access to the recording.
- Friendly Fandoms: Team Starkid is considered "adjacent" to the Tin Can Brothers (which was founded by three of the original Starkid actors and regularly shares performers with Starkid). Many Starkid fans regularly include Tin Can Bros productions on lists of Starkid productions, especially Spies Are Forever, which is a very Starkid-like genre parody comedy musical. Really, the only distinction between a TCB show and a Starkid is that the Starkid trademark is owned by the Lang Brothers and applies only to the shows they write and produce.
- Shipwrecked Comedy is considered adjacent to the Tin Can Brothers (and therefore indirectly adjacent to Starkid), with Shipwrecked's biggest and best-known production Poe Party prominently featuring Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez, and with both troupes frequently overlapping casts with each other and Starkid since then. (Most notable is Curt Mega making his debut in the comedy-web-series universe As Himself(but a spy) in TCB's Spies Are Forever, then appearing in Poe Party before his official Starkid debut in Black Friday.)
- TCB and Shipwrecked poked fun at their overlapping fandoms by manufacturing a fake rivalry between the two troupes (the "Bookfarters Saga") in November 2019, with the groups releasing two videos at the same time with an identical script, leading to them "falling out" with each other and threatening to take each other to court for plagiarism. For Starkid fans, it was notable that Lauren Lopez presented herself as a wholly neutral party on the Tin Can Bros' livestream addressing the issue and said Nick Lang and Starkid were trying to stay above the fray. In the final comedy sketch laying rest to the dispute, The Reveal that both troupes stole the script from Jack and Dean in 2005 has a Freeze-Frame Bonus where the logged-in account in the screenshot is Team Starkid, indicating that Nick Lang (or someone working for him) sold out both sister troupes in order to put the feud to rest and make sure Black Friday wasn't disrupted.
- Team Starkid is also a Friendly Fandom with the fandom for Dear Evan Hansen. Andrew Barth Feldman, the youngest Evan Hansen from the Broadway cast, revealed he's been a huge Starkid fan since he was a child, and has invited Starkid members multiple times to participate in his Jack Box Games fundraising streams, and has been invited to participate in a Starkid live-reading of Addams Family Values in return. Pasek And Paul are, in fact, former classmates with the core Team Starkid members from the University of Michigan's theatre department in the mid-2000s, and Darren Criss has performed songs from the show multiple times at concerts, including singing "Waving Through A Window" with Benj Pasek himself.
- Thomas Sanders is openly a Starkid stan and has introduced much of his younger audience from Sanders Sides to Starkid, including creating a tongue-in-cheek online "petition" to "Cast Thomas Sanders in Black Friday!" Nick Lang has acknowledged he's aware of Sanders' petition but hasn't otherwise responded.
- As of March 2021 Team Starkid has gotten a Colbert Bump from Ranboo of the Dream SMP server streaming The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals on Twitch, connecting Starkid fandom with the — very young and very active — Minecraft YouTube fandom.
- Hostility on the Set: When Bonnie left Starkid, she unfollowed the rest of the cast on social media. When they were asked about her departure, they responded that she was "eaten by a lizard". Things apparently settled down enough over the years that she returned for the Starkid Homecoming celebration in 2019.
- Hypothetical Casting: In 2020, Joey Richter put out this tweet, matching StarKid members (including most of the non-actors) to characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Iconic Item
- Joey Richter's headband, which he's worn as three of his characters.
- In several of their shows, every single character wears Chuck Taylor shoes.
- The plain door on stage left in all but the most dramatic of their shows.
- Lost Episode: Before A Very Potter Musical, the group now known as "Team Starkid" did a stage play parody (not a musical, despite what many assume) of The Hobbit and a sequel entitled The Hobbit 2: The Lord of the Rings. No one ever filmed the Hobbit production and the LOTR one was thought lost with the only surviving footage being this clip showcasing Lauren Lopez as Frodo and Nick Lang puppeteering Gollum, until Firebringer's Kickstarter backers were shown The Hobbit 2: The Lord of the Rings in nearly its entirety.
- Old Shame:
- Nick Lang has talked in general about Team Starkid's sense of humor maturing over time, and has specifically disavowed the character of Umbridge from A Very Potter Sequel saying he agrees it's deeply hurtful to trans people and he'd never do a similar joke today.
- Joe Walker's stepmother came to see Starship and gave him a frank review that she felt the script was "deeply misogynistic", particularly in the way the character of February was treated, which Joe and the Lang Brothers felt was a fair criticism and played into their view of Starship as a flawed show that they'd like to heavily revise if they had the chance.
- Devin Lytle in particular is uncomfortable with her StarKid persona, always playing a ditzy, vaguely slutty Southern Belle, and especially how the Very Potter trilogy had her play that as a trilogy-long joke about whitewashing Cho Chang. While she knows that StarKid has matured beyond this just as much as she has, she ultimately didn't appear in StarKid Homecoming on the grounds that fans would expect her to step into the role of Cho again.
- One-Steve Limit: Aversions among the team are surprisingly common:
- Promoted Fanboy:
- Robert Manion first came to Team Starkid's attention as a teenage entrant in a fan contest to submit a costume and a song for A Very Potter Senior Year, all the way from Australia — the team not realizing until they picked the winners that both contests were won by the same person. He went on to come to America to join the ensemble for Twisted, work as crew on Firebringer, and finally became a core member of the troupe with the Hatchetfield shows, and is by far one of the most popular members among the younger generation that got into Starkid through The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals.
- Mariah Rose Faith also falls into this category — although she was already Internet-famous with her YouTube channel of Broadway covers when she first appeared in The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals, she revealed later that she was a huge fan of A Very Potter Musical as a little girl before being cast in the new show.
- See Friendly Fandoms — the members of Shipwrecked Comedy considered themselves huge fans of A Very Potter Musical and Starkid before they founded their troupe in 2013, and it was a really exciting moment for them to finally work together with Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Dinner Party.
- Tessa Netting and Curt Mega expressed a desire to become promoted fans in a song released on Tessa's YouTube channel. Both went on to perform for the team, though the song was very tongue-in-cheek to begin with, as they were friends with the crew well before becoming fans.
- Rewritten Pop Version: Of "Sami", "Not Alone", "Even Though", "Ready to Go", "Stutter", "1001 Nights".
- Romance on the Set: As of September 2018, the first Team Starkid engagement has been announced, between Brian Holden and Meredith Stepien. As of August 10, 2019, they're now married! Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez also confirmed they'd been dating for 8+ years, and in mid-2020 announced their engagement.
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Characters in Starkid shows never gasp, they only ever exclaim the word "Gasp!"
- Secret Relationship: Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez dated secretly for eight years, not revealing it to the public until they became engaged in mid-2020. They even cohabitated for much of that time, but passed themselves off as being roommates.
- Shout-Out: To the point where they have their own page.
- Southern Belle: If Devin Lytle is involved.
- Surreal Humor: A lot of their work is filled with humor that would be considered way too bizarre for the Broadway stage.