Dartmouth High theater returns to the stage with the music of Queen
The Dartmouth High Theater Company is back on the stage for the first time in nearly two years with a Queen-filled production of their spring musical “We Will Rock You” — a streamable performance Freddie Mercury might describe as “guaranteed to blow your mind, anytime.”
With a soundtrack of the band’s greatest hits, the show tells the story of a group of young rebels called “Bohemians” who struggle against the Globalsoft company to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion, and live music in a dystopian future where everyone dresses, thinks and acts the same.
In this world ruled by the evil “Killer Queen,” musical instruments are forbidden, and rock music is unknown.
“It’s an amazing experience to have put this on,” said senior Emerson Clarke, who plays a Bohemian named Ozzy Osbourne. “We’ve known all these lines and blocking for like two years.”
Faculty co-director Denis Lawrence, Jr. noted that the show was initially cast in December of 2019.He said that rehearsals were “going strong” throughout early 2020 until “the world shut down” in March.
“What a shutdown it was,” Lawrence said, adding that rehearsals continued on Zoom in the hopes the show could go on that June. “It never happened.”
After the Dartmouth High theater company made its online debut with pre-recorded streams of “It’s a Wonderful Life — A Live Radio Show” this past winter, he and fellow director Shirley Byers immediately got to work figuring out how to navigate continually changing Covid guidelines and put on “We Will Rock You.”
“First the blocking was ten feet apart, then six, then three,” Lawrence said. “These kids had to deal with things constantly evolving to what it was tonight.”
Assistant choreographer Lauren Enoksen said that those socially-distanced practices were “interesting,” noting that students first learned dance moves from home before moving to small pods when in-person rehearsals returned.
“It was very confusing and crazy,” she added. “But we got through it.”
Although distancing requirements were moot by showtime, performing in a mask remained a district policy. Lawrence explained that most mics were placed on the performers’ foreheads, out of the way of masks designed to match their costumes.
Senior Taylor Olimpio was especially fond of the bedazzled mask she got to wear while playing Killer Queen.
“I didn’t even know they were going to do that,” she said. “Then they showed up with a mask that made me go ‘Holy moly.’”
To get into the role, the young thespian said she likes to think of something that makes her angry.
“It hypes up the adrenaline,” she said. “When I get on my boots, leggings and look at myself in the mirror, it’s all over.”
Another new addition to the production was the use of a live band to perform more than 20 hit Queen songs including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Radio Ga Ga.”
Senior Jackson Neves, who plays the lead role of Galileo, was especially excited to have the band play along for what was his final high school show.
“I’ve loved these songs for my whole life,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior show.”
Fellow lead Emily Fantasia agreed.
Fantasia played Scaramouche, a rebellious, hard-bitten, cynical girl who has caught Galileo’s eye.
While shows usually have a piano accompaniment, “when it’s Queen, live music changes everything,” Fantasia said.
“When they first came to practice, everyone was instantly energized,” the senior added. “This show rocks.”
Much like the winter play, the shows will only be available to be watched online, although Lawrence said he anticipates future shows the theater company puts on will be “back to normal” in the fall.
Performances will be available for streaming on June 17, 18, and 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10.
To get a ticket, visit dhstheatreco.com.