In early March 2020, Canby High School’s spring musical told the story of a small life form that rapidly grew into a global disaster — which, in hindsight, was maybe just a bit too on the nose.
Fourteen months later, the troupe is planning a triumphant return with a rocking production of We Will Rock You, a jukebox musical inspired by the songs of Queen, which is about a group of young people fighting to bring back music and free expression in a dystopian future where everything is controlled by computers and mega-corporations.
So, yeah. Good thing they decided to go with material that has no relevance to current events this time around.
Drama teacher and director Craig Holbrook said the musical, which debuted in London in May 2002 and was the 11th longest-running musical in West End history, takes place “in the far future where a global corporation controls everything and ‘music’ is computer-programmed crap designed to generate the most sales.”
Again — nothing relevant there.
“Instruments are outlawed, as is individual thought,” Holbrook said, explaining the musical’s premise. “Rock and roll is a legend and there is a prophecy that a ‘dreamer’ will come and rediscover rock and start a new age.”
The show features more than 20 Queen hits including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “We Will Rock You,” “Somebody To Love,” “We Are the Champions,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and many more.
Holbrook said he picked the show for several reasons: Theatrical Rights Worldwide, which holds the copyright, allows streaming for all of its shows, and has pre-recorded performance tracks that negate the need to have a live rock band or crowd musicians into the pit at the Canby Fine Arts Center.
Also, the script’s cast needs fit the composition of Canby’s Troupe 632 and — I quote — “the music is great.” (Obviously.)
The “school” edition that Holbrook is using has been adapted from the original Broadway version and carefully edited for use by high school groups.
The show has been set for May 20-22 and 27-29. Asked if those dates are tentative, Holbrook replied that they are “like Jell-o in the fridge, firming up.”
The tantalizing possibility is that the school may be able to offer limited in-person attendance at the show, depending on the guidelines in place by early summer.
Under the current metrics, the theater would be allowed to accommodate only 100 people indoors total (including cast and crew). That means about 50 audience members, which Holbrook said would not cover the cost of the show’s royalties.
“It may change by May, but it concerns me,” Holbrook said. “If we also sell streaming tickets to those not in the house, we could recoup expenses.”
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