Victoria High’s musical theatre class is flushing away stage conventions with its edgy and out-there production of Urinetown next month.
The musical is about a destitute, low-income town ruled by a tyrannical corporation monopolizing everything – including going to the bathroom.
“If you don’t pay, you don’t go,” said Kim Sholinder, the musical theatre teacher.
The humorous and dance-packed show tackles themes like standing up for yourself as the town revolts against the Urine Good Company.
“Even though it’s a unique subject matter, it’s really funny and very musical theatre-esque,” Sholinder said.
The show pushes the boundaries of what’s allowed in high school theatre, and that’s just the way the Vic High students like it.
|(Photo courtesy of Victoria High School)|
“It allows students a chance to kind of play with what would be considered more adult humour and do it in a way that’s still appropriate and fun,” Sholinder said.
The students chose Urinetown out of five options. Knowing her students, something like a Disney musical wasn’t going to cut it, Sholinder said. In recent years, the school has done plays that deal with challenging preconceived ideas about homeless youth, addiction and exploitation.
“The kids really laid into that kind of thing,” Sholinder said. “We really talk about the cultural connotations that come with a show.”
And for kids who have been deprived of so much for over a year because of the pandemic, while in the heart of their formative teens, the play acts as a much-needed outlet.
“Kids are feeling like they don’t have a lot of freedom and are feeling really restricted and so this gives them a chance to feel like they have a bit of a voice,” Sholinder said.
Putting on a pandemic play has its challenges. Students had to rehearse in small, masked and distanced groups all year. Having a live band would’ve also put them over their allowable numbers, so the student sound engineers will have to cue recorded tracks with perfect precision during the musical.
“It’s pretty remarkable honestly, they’re a really inspiring group of young people,” Sholinder said.
With all the extra challenges, she expected a lot of students to just opt out of musical theatre this year. Instead, she had the highest turnout she’s ever had.
“There’s 75 kids, total, who have have all put effort into making this show happen and it just goes to show how committed they all are.”
Urinetown will be streamed online at 7 p.m. from May 19 to 22 and tickets can be found at https://bit.ly/3tQ1DTK.
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