Theatre with an edge is coming to Vic High next month.
For potentially the final show to be produced in the iconic high school’s auditorium as it stands today – seismic upgrading for the school is in the works – the theatre department is preparing to stage Cry Baby, the story of a 1950s-era class struggle where a “good girl” falls for a “bad boy” from the other side of the tracks.
Director Kim Sholinder says the musical, running Feb. 6 to 9 with a pay-what-you-can preview night Feb. 5, continues Vic High’s tradition of tackling slightly edgier scripts, those that explore social issues along with providing fun entertainment.
“For me and the education of the students, it’s good to expose them to shows they may not be familiar with,” she says. It also helps, from a competitive standpoint, to do shows other high schools have not done, she adds.
The musical is based on the 1990 movie of the same name that starred Johnny Depp as Cry Baby and Amy Locane as Allison.
Sholinder involves the students in the selection of the year’s productions and after last year’s staging of Hair, which ends with the heartbreaking death of a key character, the students wanted to take on something upbeat and light.
While the character Wade “Cry Baby” Walker has a tragic back story – his parents were killed under suspicion of being Communists – and the serious issues of classism, racism and sexism are touched on, the overall tone of the show is hopeful and uplifting, Sholinder says.
Describing her own style as “kind of campy … with light humour and quirky stuff mixed in,” she says the music and story line in Cry Baby give it that kind of feel, in a way similar to Grease, a better-known musical popular with high school theatre troupes.
Musically, it’s rockabilly (the cool, leather-bound “drapes”) meets barbershop quartet (the buttoned-down “squares”).
“The students are really enjoying it; it’s a challenging musical score,” Sholinder says.
The production is benefiting from having community musician Stephen Horak organizing the live accompaniment, while vocal coach Anabel Wind is working with the students on their singing. “Four-part harmony in a quartet is tricky if you haven’t experienced that before,” the director notes.
While Cry Baby and Allison are the lead roles, this production was chosen, in part, for the way it weaves other cast members into the story and gives them opportunities to shine, Sholinder says.
Tickets are $12 each or $10 for students, available at the door or in advance by calling 250-388-5456.