Suppose the famed explorers Lewis and Clark acted like the screwball duo Bill and Ted of movie fame.
Imagine hearing the Underground Railroad, which smuggled slaves to freedom before the Civil War, described in a heartfelt rap.
And imagine what it would be like to be sitting there when the Wright brothers — yes, Orville and Wilbur — tell their high school guidance counselor that they want to fly like a bird.
All of those scenarios unfold in “US A Teen History” to be performed by the Iowa Central Community College Theatre Department, beginning Monday and running through Oct. 15.
Teresa Jackson, the college’s director of theater, described the show as a comedy and musical that examines American history through a teen-aged perspective. She said it begins with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World in 1492 and ends with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Along the way, she said, it tackles all the issues a democracy struggles with.
And while the worst terrorist attack on American soil is the final major historical event in the play, it does not end on a grim, somber note, according to Jackson.
“It ends hopeful,” she said. “It ends patriotic.”
In the show, the progress of American history is set to music.
“There’s a ton of singing,” she said. “If there’s not singing, there’s dancing.”
“US A Teen History” was written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus. It debuted in 2014 at the writing duo’s teen theater camp in Jefferson City, Missouri.
“What I like about this show is that it entertains and it also stimulates your intellect,” Jackson said.
She said she received permission from the show’s writers to make some changes and additions. For example, she said the rap about the Underground Railroad is based on a poem she wrote.
Jackson selects shows that will be a good fit for her returning students and her incoming students. This year, she also had to pick something that would work well for a smaller theater space. With the initial work already underway to renovate Decker Auditorium, the show had to be moved to the smaller auditorium in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building. She said the smaller space “creates an intimacy we’ve yet to experience with an audience at Iowa Central.”
She added that parking will be a “breeze” because there is a parking lot directly across the street from the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building.
The production has a cast and crew of 50 people.
If You Go
What: Iowa Central Community College production of “US A Teen History”
When: 7 p.m. Monday through Oct. 15
Where: Bioscience and Health Sciences Building
Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students. Iowa Central Community College students and employees admitted free.
How to get tickets
Visit the Iowa Central Community College Bookstore or the Bookstore’s website at iowacentral.edu/bookstore.
Getting tickets in advance is recommended because of the smaller seating capacity of the auditorium.