Monday, January 14, 2013

'RPG' looks like a high school musical worth seeing


High school musicals these days don't have the easiest time attracting audiences.  Seen as a rite of passage for theater students and a night of loving obligation for parents, few outside of the school community attend their local high school's musical to experience a night at the theatre.

For the most part, this problem is caused by licensing costs.  The rights to good (popular) shows cost a pile of money, while rights to dated musicals like Guys and Dolls or dreaded Rogers and Hammerstein fare (Oklahoma!) can be secured for a song.

Plucky young playwright and musician Steve Barnes is looking to change this trend by way of a new musical that's making headlines across the pacific northwest called simply 'RPG'.

 Fire I.... or Hadoken? (source: Bellingham Herald)

RPG aims to celebrate the golden age of 16-bit video games by highlighting their capacity for inspiring the imaginations of the children who grew up with them.  While details on the show are still a bit light - which isn't that uncommon for an original high school production - the emphasis will be on the storytelling nature of early video games with "affectionate nods to legendary developers of the 16-bit era".

RPG will also mix in digital music and visual effects with good old fashioned repertory theatre musical can-do.  Starring a quartert of seniors from the far-flung city of Bellingham, Washington, the show is scheduled for four performances between January 17 and January 20th at Bellingham High School.  Those lucky enough to live in the pacific northwest can find additional details about the show on its official website and catch a performance for $7.00.

In light of the recent drubbing that video games have been taking in the news, RPG is exactly the sort of positive press that games and gamers need.  I only hope that Barnes licenses the rights to the show to other schools across the nation so its message can be heard by a larger audience.

It'd be well worth spending a couple of hours in the uncomfortable wooden chairs of my old high school's auditorium if it meant that I could see a musical chronicle the effects that Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasys IV - VI had on my childhood.