School's Out is a soundtrack album following 5 friends; Warren, Michelle, Lloyd, Sara and Caleb, who embark on the trip of a lifetime after school, when one friend, Caleb tragically passes away. A coming of age concept musical, exploring loss, love, purpose and God, through their eyes.
Explore with these vignettes.
Thank you to vocalists Kat and Greg for embodying these characters so incredibly, and bringing them to life.
Michelle and Sara have been dreaming of traveling together in Europe ever since they were kids. Warren and Caleb meet on their travels, and later became friends with Lloyd. The guys and gals meet at a café in Paris (naturally : ), and become close, continuing their travels together.
This song is about celebrating the joy of new experiences and relationships, exploring the world amongst new-found freedom and independence. Of course, independence and embarking on the journey of adulthood has its challenges (as is explored later), and so there is an allusion to this in the song too.
It doesn't take too long before Michelle and Warren fall head over hills in love. The relationship gets serious fast, and Caleb's loss ends up putting enormous strain on something still very new.
Like many great relationships, they are very different, Warren is more intense and driven (complex, like his name implies) and Michelle, an elementary school teacher in training, is easy going and gentle. Differences compliment, but sometimes they can cause challenge and strife, especially during difficult life situations-and when relationships are new.
Sung from Warren's perspective, it is all about that first high of romantic love, when everything just clicks and feels right. Without trying to take away from that amazing high, there are allusions in the lyrics to the challenges that lie ahead.
The friends are walking in Rome one night when Caleb is suddenly knocked over by an out of control scooter, sustaining severe head injuries and tragically losing his life.
The loss is extreme. The shock of going from blissful happiness as they traveled together and got to know one another, to this tragedy in the blink of an eye is indescribable. It marks a turning point for them all.
Sung from Caleb's perspective, it is his attempt to understand what has happened to him, the sadness he feels as he watches his friends suffer, and his transition to a new existence we can only surmise.
Warren and Caleb became unexpected best friends as they travelled together (Warren is the smart, athletic kid, Caleb a dreamy artist), and he struggles with Caleb's passing. Warren had always planned to embark on a career as a surgeon following this trip, as his father and grandfather before him, but he freezes up as Caleb lies bleeding on the ground after being hit by the scooter that ultimately claims his life.
Now stricken with grief and also wracked with feelings of self doubt (although there was nothing he could've done), he breaks up with Michelle whom he had started dating, and leaves the group to travel on alone. He disconnects from everyone, revisits previous places he and Caleb visited together, hikes deep into the mountains, trying to make sense of what has occurred, and his own feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Michelle has returned home after completing the rest of the trip with her friend Sara. They have tried to honor Caleb's memory by visiting the places they had all intended to together, and to see it through his artistic eyes, as he would've.
But now Michelle is back home, still grieving, and worried about Warren, who has gone AWOL. A song about trying to help someone you love who doesn't want it, about acceptance and self preservation.
The dancers represent the restlessness of Michelle's mind, as well as the obstacles she faces. As the song progresses, she must wind her way through the dancers and occasionally dance with them, as she tries to connect with Caleb and find Warren, who both now seem forever out of reach.
Meanwhile Lloyd, the happy-go-lucky physical therapist and quintessential surfer dude of the group, has cut the trip short and returned to his beautiful beach side hometown, trying to forget what has happened and get on with his life. But that proves harder than he thought.
Our inner life may not always reflect the outward beauty around us-and that can be hard to bear too. A song about how family, comfort and home can be a great salve, but sometimes our hearts need time to heal- and grieve- too.
Sara is independent, tough and ambitious, and after she and Michelle finish the trip, she returns home to finish up her legal studies. She is unable to immerse herself in work and study as she previously could.
She realizes how her friendship with Caleb opened up her eyes to other ways of viewing the world, and how incredibly grateful she is to him for that.
She reflects on how he might advise her to move forward now. Of course his advice is expressed artistically, telling her she must continue on, begin painting her next 'canvas', just as he- and the Ultimate 'Painter' of our world- would want her to.
This song follows Warren as he continues traveling on his own, no longer communicating with friends and his family back home. He has not returned to university and is becoming increasingly depressed and isolated.
He is realizing that retreating is not really helping him deal with the grief he feels over Caleb's loss, his breakup with Michelle, nor his uncertainty about his future career path as a surgeon.
The song delves into the spiritual: as lights/souls coming down to earth and leaving, and trying to find comfort and purpose along that journey.
As the song progresses, Warren realizes he needs to leave the beauty-but loneliness of the wilderness, and return to civilization. He packs his bags for London, with just enough money to scrounge for a ticket.
The friends are separated: Sara is in her dorm room trying to study, Lloyd is finishing up at the Physical Therapy office for the day, Warren is heading to London, and Michelle is in her bedroom at home, and Caleb is watching each friend helplessly while continuing to process his own new reality.
This song is taken from the perspective of each person as they continue to grapple with the situation, hoping to come to terms with what has happened and figure out how they can move forward. There is also a recognition that their current methods of coping, namely trying to resume normal life, putting it all behind them, have not really been working. In this song they embrace their individual and collective grief, loss and confusion.
Caleb feels helpless as he watches each and tries to offer comfort, while also reassuring them "you should know I'm alright.", suggesting he is finally finding his own peace.
Lloyd and Sara meet up on Skype and both confess that they are struggling with what has happened. Sarah says her grades are slipping and now in addition to the grief she feels, she is is also incredibly angry.
She half humorously, half seriously, confesses that she lies awake preparing a legal case where she prosecutes God (although she has always been agnostic), to hold Him responsible for Caleb's loss. She wants so much to believe that there was some reason for this to happen, that it was not random bad luck, as unfathomable as that reason may be. And she wants God to explain that reason, to offer His defense.
Lloyd is intrigued by this. He is uncertain what he believes; only hoping that Caleb is okay somewhere, and at peace. Sarah says she has been studying the Bible to compile the possible defense God might offer.
The song is therefore sung from God's perspective, as He explains (through Sara's interpretation), that there is no way He could give us an easily explainable reason as to why tragedy occurs in our world. The very nature of this world is a beautiful-but fragmented one. He can only offers his Word as an antidote/guide to functioning in-and improving this earthly reality.