In the 1920s, the first musical films arrived and they flourished, though by the ‘90s, they had all but disappeared from pop culture. However, much like everything else, film is cyclical and Musicals are finally attempting to make their comeback. Therefore, it makes sense that the writer-director who brought us 2007’s Stomp the Yard and 2017’s Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack is set to offer up a brand new Musical entitled Stand!. Though it originally opened in Canada in 2019, Fathom Events is set to release the film to select US theaters on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.
A general workers’ strike in Winnipeg, Canada in 1919 went on to inspire the 2005 stage musical Strike! by Danny Schur. Now, with Schur (Made in Winnipeg: The Terry Sawchuk Origin Story 205) sharing a writing credit with Rick Chafe, Strike! provides the foundation for Stand!. Directed by Robert Adetuyi (You Got Served: Beat the World 2011, Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack 2017), the Musical follows two immigrants with a love similar to that of the ill-fated Romeo and Juliet.
In 1919, Stefan Sokolowski (Marshall Williams: Glee series, When Hope Calls series) and his father, Mike (Gregg Henry: Payback 1999, Guardians of the Galaxy 2014), are Ukrainian refugees looking for work in Winnipeg. While their hope is to raise enough money to reunite their family in the US, their first step must be to find a place to live. At their new apartment complex, Stefan meets another immigrant, Jewish suffragist Rebecca Almazoff (Laura Wiggins: Shameless series, Rings 2017), who lives nearby with her brother, Moishe (Tristan Carlucci: The Divide 2011, Channel Zero series).
After they meet, Rebecca mentions a letter that her brother is writing to put in the paper, a letter that discusses the need for higher pay as the cost of living has risen. Trying to help, Stefan insists he can translate the writing into English, so that Moishe can bring more people over to his cause. Unfortunately, still sticking to old prejudices, Moishe refuses the offer from a Ukrainian immigrant. Believing herself to be doing something good for her sibling, Rebecca goes around his wishes and has Stefan compose the letter anyway and it miraculously makes it into the paper.
The neighbors could not possibly have been prepared for the uproar that follows, as workers call for the formation of a union which, in turn, arranges a workers’ strike. And while the immigrant workers do not always see eye to eye, they share a common enemy: the Anglo soldiers returning from World War I, who are now discovering that their jobs have been taken in their absence. With businesses claiming they want to keep their immigrant employees, as they will work for next to nothing, and the returning veterans applying a growing pressure, what will happen when the kettle boils over and the workers go on strike?
A film that is centered on social upheaval, labor discord, and inter-ethnic conflicts, Stand! is a heartfelt movie that will definitely tug on the heartstrings of its audience. Coupling its dramatic look at history with an excellent cast, brilliantly worded songs—including that of Lisa Bell’s beautifully strong voice performing the title track—as well as a largely believable portrayal of the time period (minus a few accidental modern slip-ups), Stand! does some important history justice. This is all topped off with themes that echo our modern times, creating a Musical that the entire world could benefit from watching. So while Musicals are not exactly as they used to be, Cryptic Rock still gives Stand! 4 out of 5 stars.