.Karen with a K

The rock opera drops a musical temper tantrum

Songwriter Laura February Strange and her music partner and arranger, Scott Kail, give us an inspired and gritty album of ten rock songs that are the soundtrack of the comedy rock opera Karen with a K.

Karen is the meme for middle-aged white women who have become infamous online for their displays of entitlement and white privilege. Karen with a K onstage has Karen portrayed by three actresses, each showing a different side of the anti-hero. On this entertaining soundtrack album, the band and singers rock hard and turn doo-wop sweet, driving the laugh your ass off satirical lyrics.

The Karen Within

The songs go deep into Karen’s psyche and pull no punches. In “Like Mama, Like Me,” she sings, “Nobody ever grants your wish, you gotta take it with your fists.” The three Karens rap, “I want to see the manager, the manager now!”

In the infectious doo-wop, “Hoax,” she sings about her mother catching Covid, “Mama’s in the ICU with a hoax.” The songs expose Karen’s pain with surgical precision. As horrifying as she is, we see her humanity and feel the Karen inside us.

secure document shredding

The show’s author confides, “When something’s wrong, I might get in your face a little too much. I get a little too excited. I’m not good in court, I look like a lunatic. I am Karen in those situations. It’s like, ‘Why is everybody telling me to quiet down? I am quiet.’”  Laura says this very quietly. Funny woman.

Thank The Pandemic

I sit down with Laura February Strange and Scott Kail in the Corralitos Cultural Center, in the south Santa Cruz county town of Watsonville, in the little black box theater where the show was developed. I ask Laura how it began.

“It started as a 2020 pandemic project. Scott and I were talking about the whole Karenism thing and we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we got a band of Karens together?’ I started watching Karen YouTube videos, hundreds of them. I couldn’t stop writing songs about her. Still can’t.”

Born To Arrange

I ask Scott, “She writes the song, then what?”

“She’ll bring the song to me, they’re pretty much done.  Then, my role is to arrange it, to clean it up.”

Laura leans in, “I play it for him to get a response out of him. To see if he laughs. If it’s got something to it, he finds that.”

I say, “Scott is part of your process.”

She nods, “He’s the musical director, I really lean on him.”

“Scott, as the arranger, what is the most interesting part?”

“To me, I’ve always felt that you could do lots of tempos, you could do lots of keys, but there’s the perfect one. I’ve always believed that. The perfect tempo for that song. The perfect key for that song. The sweetest spot for the vocalist to sing. That’s part of the fun to me, to find that. You’re dressing it up.”

“For the prom,” Laura nods. “I really respect Scott’s knowledge; he’s been immersed in it since he was a kid. He had 30,000 albums at one time.”

Karen For President

I bring up the uncomfortable fact that 52% of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016. “Are all Karens Trumpers?”

Laura rocks backwards, “Oh, god no! I’ve got a new progressive-Karen song; it’s a sanctimonious, tree hugging, yoga-pants-wearing Karen, who is as obnoxious as they come.”

“Dreams for the show?”

“I’d like it to get out of my head. That would be my dream. I would love for community theaters to take the show and put it into whatever musical form they want. I would like it to be a perennial in Santa Cruz so I didn’t have to travel, but I’d love it to get around the country.”

“What’s next?”

“Trying to come up with a Karen for president campaign. I’m going to run the three Karens against each other, have debates. Maybe we can keep our minds on a little bit of humor.”

I ask her, “If what’s left of our democracy goes down, how would that influence your writing for Karen?”

“I would just keep writing. If they’re going to haul people off to prison, they’ll probably get me. Because I’ll keep it up. At this point, it’s my chance of having a voice.”

“Where can people find Karen with a K A Musical Tantrum?”

“Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music. All the places where it’s free.” 

The three Karens are, Stephanie Madrigal, Bonny June and June Appleby. The album was recorded at Chicken Ranch Studio in Santa Cruz.

You can view the live show videos on Laura February Strange’s Instagram channel and watch Stephanie Madrigal sing “Just a Hoax” from Karen With a K – A Musical Temper Tantrum, by clicking here.

or scan this QR code:


  1. Great interview, Richard! This show is pure genius. Wonderful music with very relevant lyrics. Laura and Scott are magical talents separately and together they are a force of nature and all that is creative. If you haven’t seen it, make a note to attend the next time it’s performed at the Corralitos Cultural Center.

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  2. I’ve seen Karen With a K several times. What a show. It’ll be playing at the Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz April 28. Can’t wait!

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  3. I am proud to say I

    know the members of ” Karen with a K ” every single one of them is a multi talented, gifted performer!!! the performance is a feel good experience. I haven’t laughed that hard, (true belly laughs), in way too long!! seeing this performance is a gift to oneself. hope your life allows you to attend sundays performance at the Kuumbwa! top of the mark interview, stockton!

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