Coop Arts & Humanities High School Stages Hip Hopera

A New Haven high school will present 'Hip-Hopera' musical
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
By Donna Doherty, Register Arts Editor

Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School is really living up to its name with the world premiere of the musical “Broken Chains: A Gospel Hip-Hopera,” which runs today and Thursday at 2:30 and 7 p.m. at the school, 177 College St.

The roots of the original production — the story of the persecution of St. Peter by Roman Emperor Nero — spread throughout the city, Yale, the Shubert Theater, all departments of the arts magnet school and even down to Trinidad.

Trinidad craftsman Andy Neils built the 20 steel pan instruments for the school, which the students, none of whom had played them before, have mastered to provide a melodic accompaniment for the show, which is directed by theater teacher Christi Sargent.

Producer Suzannah Holsenbeck, the Yale Co-Op Partnership coordinator and director of Co-Op After School, says the idea for the “hip-hopera” came from a desire to “show that you could showcase talent that doesn’t always get shown in a traditional musical, such as spoken word or hip-hop.”

At dress rehearsal Tuesday, the cast was rehearsing the powerful ending, when Simon Peter opts to be crucified hanging upside down. It was made even more poignant when one learns that senior Solomon Green, who plays Peter, was shot in his home not long ago. The words in the libretto by Yale doctoral candidate Patrick Gray about repression and being strong and not afraid of death, fully resonated.
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