If you like your Canadian politics with a side of jazz hands, then Just Watch Me: A Time Travelling Trudeau Musical might be the Fringe show for you.
The musical tells the story of May Lee, a high school student who is sent back in time to witness the 1970 October Crisis, encountering on her way a “singing, dancing Prime Minister Trudeau,” along with a host of other historical characters.
A quick refresher: the October Crisis refers to the kidnapping of two politicians by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), and Prime Minister Trudeau’s subsequent peacetime implementation of the War Measures Act. The Act granted the federal government sweeping powers to suspend civil liberties in response to “war, invasion or insurrection,” and led to the arrest of nearly 500 citizens in 1970.
If this incident sounds pulled from a contemporary headline, that’s kind of the point. Writer and director Daniel McLeod sees a compelling link between the War Measures Act and the recent passing of Bill C-51.
“Bill C-51 gives exceptional powers to CSIS to intervene in Canadians’ privacy, and there are other provisions that restrict civil liberties and allow arrest. It’s a different piece of legislation of course, but there are strong parallels,” he said.
McLeod hopes that the show will encourage people to think: about the upcoming federal election, about privacy law, and – more generally – about what we want from our elected representatives.
Of course, he also wants audiences to simply enjoy the musical experience. The show will include a live orchestra, five dance numbers, two mock protests, a football game, tear gas (fake), and a mix of country, pop, hip hop and jazz music – truly “something for everyone,” according to McLeod.
“It sounds very serious, but it’s actually a comedy, a satire with serious issues, and a musical. [There are] a lot of things going on in this play.”