A few weeks ago I attended the school productions of all of my children. The primary school production was a mammoth effort involving the entire school split into three casts, each numbering almost 300 students ranging in age from 5 to 12. The high school production was the school’s nineteenth, and boasted a cast of about 70 and a live band. The teenagers were talented and entertaining beyond their years, and the primary school kids were adorable beyond belief.
My son has participated in the school production every year since starting high school, and every year I marvel at the level of polish. In the past four years they’ve performed Fame, Bye Bye Birdie, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Wedding Singer. With the exception of Jesus Christ Superstar for which they chose a non-specific, modern day setting, all the productions have been set in another time and another place. Not 21st century, not in Australia.
Now, I understand that the choosing of a musical appropriate for a high school cast, one that suits the particular talents of the available students, one that school can afford to obtain rights to use and one that isn’t going to require sets, effects and costumes beyond the school’s resources is arguably the hardest part of the entire enterprise. I’m guessing that such an animal set in modern day Australia does not exist.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if it did, though?
Not that I’m volunteering to write it. Stage plays are far outside my knowledge and skill set. But if someone else were to do so – someone who knew what they were doing – what might it look like?
- Modern technology
Nothing says “modern day” like smartphones and the Internet. The cast would probably come on stage all staring intently at little rectangular boxes in their hands, until some catastrophe renders their devices inoperable and they’re all forced to look up and interact with each other.
- Popular culture
A difficult one to nail down, because pop culture now changes at the speed of…well, the Internet. Just going off what the young folk in my house seem to be interested in, I’d throw in references to Buzzfeed, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, cosplaying, dubstep, Regular Show and Adventure Time, and movies such as Maleficent and Frozen in which “the girl saves the girl”.
If Aussie kids can perform American musicals with creditable American accents, then why not send our musicals over there? In that case, you’ll be wanting some recognizable Australian icons – kangaroos and koalas, boomerangs and didgeridoos, and at least one character who dresses in khaki and who reads like a cross between Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee. One of my online friends recently described Australia as “Deathland”, so you could throw in some of our world-famous dangers – spiders and snakes, sharks and crocodiles, and bushland that spontaneously combusts in summer.
That’s just a personal preference – but if you’re going to use my ideas, the least you could do is humour me. Doesn’t have to be a full-blown zombie apocalypse, although that would be fun…