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Derailed Shania Twain zombie musical resurrected online

A full-scale musical inspired by the music of country music superstar Shania Twain was due for its world premiere in Sechelt in mid-May. 
Darwin Miller-Hogg used their musical Man! I Feel Like a Zombie! as fodder for their Grade 12 Capstone project, presenting sets and production materials on April 30.

A full-scale musical inspired by the music of country music superstar Shania Twain was due for its world premiere in Sechelt in mid-May. 

The 110-page script and stage plots, created by Grade 12 Chatelech Secondary student Darwin Miller-Hogg, had been in rehearsal since Oct. 19. Tickets were primed for release. Posters to advertise the show — Man! I Feel Like a Zombie! — were printed. 

Two choreographers, Andrea Villanueva and Tessa Rowland, were putting final touches on showstopping group numbers set to Twain classics like "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

Momentum had been building since Miller-Hogg’s father, driving his child to Brigadoon practice two years ago, heard Twain singing on the car radio and said, “You should turn that into a musical.” 

Everything was humming in step with Miller-Hogg’s meticulously planned production schedule.  

Until it wasn’t. 

“I was even creating my speech for opening night,” said Miller-Hogg. “And then after spring break we had to cancel our performances due to complications regarding the cast. Everyone was getting really stressed out and we had some technical difficulties. I was really sad about it. 

Creating the jukebox musical based on Twain’s songbook was a vital form of creative expression for Miller-Hogg, who uses they/them pronouns. They came out as non-binary in Grade 8, and later experienced a period of depression. Their beloved dog Milo died in the midst of writing the script, compounding feelings of loss. 

“This [musical] was part of my recovery,” they said. “Writing down what I was experiencing helped. It was good to document this stuff and have it from a different character’s perspective because in a way it helped me process a lot too.” 

The show’s main characters possess a range of gender identities (including unlabeled, and one who “likes to switch up his pronouns every once in a while”). Each is a work in progress: Andie Matthews “does not fully accept herself” and left home as soon as she could. The four navigate the turbulence of 21st-century friendship (and line dancing) amid what they suspect is a full-blown zombie apocalypse. 

Even without the payoff of performance, Miller-Hogg’s journey led to personal transformation. “I got to learn all kinds of different things about the tech booth, about lighting,” they said, “and about how to ask for favours and collaborate with different people. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better with stress management, and I’ve 100 per cent grown as a person.” 

They have been accepted to study in Simon Fraser University’s theatre production and design program. “I’m super happy because it’s my dream school,” said Miller-Hogg. 

Despite the show’s cancellation this spring, Miller-Hogg resolved to bring their vision to life one scene at a time. They are videoing and sharing characters’ performances via social platforms and a dedicated website. 

“Walking into this, I was actually pretty terrified when it came to doing music,” added Miller-Hogg, who plays bass and acoustic guitars.  

“I have no professional voice training, but I love singing. It’s great as a stress reliever.” 

The digital version of Miller-Hogg’s musical is available for public viewing by browsing to  

“This musical has grown with me and has been with me for almost half of high school,” they said. “Honestly, I’m really grateful that my dad gave me this idea and maybe I should listen to him more.”