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Four Red Deer musicals will take audiences to the Jazz Age, ancient Rome and fantasyland

‘Matilda,’ ‘When in Rome,’ ‘Head Over Heels,’ and ‘Chicago’ will be staged by students
(Black Press file photo).

From girl power to gangsters, ancient Rome to fairy-tale realm, four high school musicals in Red Deer will be running the gamut from grit to fantasy.

There’s still time to catch Matilda The Musical, by Notre Dame High School students. Its last two performances are on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m., with an evening show at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Centre.

Inspired by the twisted genius of author Roald Dahl, the Tony Award-winning musical with book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, revels in the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination.

This is the unlikely story of an astonishingly gifted girl who dreams of a better life. Though unloved by her cruel parents, Matilda finds an ally in schoolteacher, Miss Honey, while trying to avoid the draconian punishments doled out by horrible headmistress Miss Trunchbull.

Co-directed by Jennifer Cocolicchio and Stephanie Layden, this show is packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs and quick wit.” Matilda is a joyous girl-power romp.”

Tickets are available at the Memorial Centre box office.

Next up is the St. Joseph High School musical comedy When In Rome, about a thief who vies for the hand of a princess. It runs March 2 to 5 in the School’s Performing Arts Centre.

The amusing romp (book by Martin A. Follose, music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur) is about a headstrong princess who tries to avoid marrying the brutish Brudis, by training a smitten thief to best him at the gladiator games.

The eclectic musical, directed by Sarah MacDonald, promises to “knock your togas off” with songs like Broadway-style Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, rousing Last Gladiator Standing and Gladius’s hysterical I’m Gonna Die.

Tickets are available from the school office.

Also opening next month is the modern fairy tale Head Over Heels, with music and lyrics by The Go-Gos and book by Jeff Whitty and James Magruder. It will be presented by Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School students from March 17 to 25 in Studio A at the school.

Based on the play The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, by Philip Sydney, this show contains some of the catchiest pop hits of the 1980s and ’90s, including We’ve Got The Beat, Our Lips Are Sealed, Vacation, and Mad About You.

When the Royal Court of Arcadia is threatened by the Oracle of Delphi with losing its “beat” ( needed to sustain happiness and prosperity), King Basilius leads his family on a journey of escape. Unlikely lovers and gender-fluid disguises promote unconditional love and acceptance, no matter the gender or sexual identity.

Tickets are available through

At the end of next month, Hunting Hills High School students will be staging Chicago, the teen edition, from March 29 to April 2 at Festival Hall.

Drama teacher Piper Rempel and her students are excited to present this Jazz Age song-and-dance show (book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse and music by John Kander) about accused murderer Roxy Hart and jailbird Velma Kelly.

The ironic plot takes satirical pokes at skewed justice, corruption and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.” Irresistible tunes include All That Jazz, Cell Block Tango, Funny Honey and All I Care About is Love.

The popularity of the original production of Chicago — the second-longest running show on Broadway — spawned a revival, numerous touring shows, and a 2002 film adaption that won the Best Picture Oscar.

Tickets for Chicago, the teen musical, are available through the school. (Cabaret shows include some light fare and refreshments).