Before Mickey Mouse invented High School Musical 1 , 2, or 3, composer / playwright Stephen Murray created The Bard Is Back, an energetic and intentionally silly show that is perfect for teen performers.
Like the Disney franchise, The Bard Is Back is about a football star who takes a sudden interest in the theater. At the same time, the shy, smart girl decides she wants to audition as well. But there's trouble brewing in the form of a jealous diva and her psychotic stage-mother. And to make matters worse, the drama department at Hilltop High has been cursed for the last ten years. Can the poor music teacher deal with all of these conflicts and put on a western version of Romeo and Juliet? Of course she can! After all, it's a musical comedy! Anything can happen.
My kids and I enjoyed watching a Sunday matinee of The Bard is Back. The jokes are good-natured and numerous. The plot may be light, but each act offers comical mayhem and a few catchy tunes. The best part -- at least from an educator's point of view -- is that the script features a large number of fun, easy-to-play characters. Every role gives the young actors a chance to shine. (Oh, and my second favorite part is the stage crew's musical tribute to duct tape. Classic!)
The Bard is Back and other Steven Murray musicals are available through Eldridge Plays.