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Singing about pregnancy, suicide and mean friends

Duo’s show at Brackendale Art Gallery this weekend delves into difficult high school topics
BAG show

Squamish singer Heather Feeney isn’t afraid to add a bit of humour to the toughest teenage issues.

Mean friends, pregnancy, getting high and dealing with ridiculous parents are some of the topics she delves into in High School and Beyond at the Brackendale Art Gallery on June 17 and 18.

Feeney is singing 21 songs, accompanied by Scott Knight on piano. The lyrics have a comedic touch that covers typical high school experiences – both good and bad.

“These topics have been around for a very long time, but they’re now in the forefront more and more,” said Feeney. “In my parents’ time, if you got pregnant while in high school, you were shipped away and you either adopted or didn’t come back to school. No one talked about it.

“There is also a song about suicide. That’s being talked about more now than it was in the past.”

Well known in the New York musical theatre scene but likely new to Squamish theatre-goers, the songs Feeney sings deal with first crushes, first sex, living in a crappy town, entitlement, final exams, senior prom and teachers, both adored and dreaded. Another song explores the issues that go along with being gay high school student.

Performing together for High School and Beyond, Feeney and Knight have been the duo behind Brackendale Broadway for five years. Both musicians are Jessie Award nominees and together play a variety of songs from the “more edgy” contemporary musical theatre genre.

Admittedly a bit of a “prude” in high school, Feeney had friends and classmates who dealt with many of the topics in the songs.

“I loved high school. I don’t remember putting a whole lot of effort into my classes, but I loved my social studies class, chemistry and obviously drama. I really like the teachers who taught these classes,” she said. “These days, teachers get to know the students better. There is more of a level playing field, with teachers there to encourage the students.”

The songs in High School and Beyond start of at the beginning of high school, when students are around 13 years old, and continue into university and college. Feeney, who has performed in Squamish, Vancouver, Calgary and New York, has been working on the selection for around three years.

She recommends High School and Beyond for adults and older high school students who have talked previously with their families about the topics in the songs. The show is set for Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. both evenings. Tickets are available at Xoxo Westcoast Chocolates and at the Brackendale Art Gallery.