High school drama unfolds on stage
Musical travels to 80s and brings back pop songs
Unrequited love and a senior class popularity contest, spiced with 1980s pop music, molds much of the plot in Marion High School’s fall play.
The production “Back to the 80’s … The Totally Awesome Musical!” features character names and actions paying tribute to pop culture icons of the 80s. It pits the hero and leader of the regular guys, Corey Palmer (played by Charlie Nordquist), in a popularity contest for senior class president.
“The whole thing is about that one kid looking back on his high school years and remembering his first love and cool kids and the nerds and how nothing turned out how they expected,” director Janet Killough said.
Star football player Michael Feldman (played by Ethan Darnell) leads the cool kids in his quest for class president, and exceptionally nerdy Feargal McFerrin III (played by Kyle Pierce) runs as the outcast representative.
Music from the 80s sets the mood, with popular kids talking about their summers — the girls singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and the boys “Footloose.”
McFerrin’s campaign envisions a technology-driven future, including CDs replacing cassette tapes, as the cast sings “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Feldman wins the election when he steals Palmer’s idea of a fundraiser-benefit concert for the school prom, and he also wins Palmer’s love interest and girl-next-door Tiffany Houston (played by Sam Kelsey).
Their competition for Houston’s affection includes singing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and ends with “You Give Love a Bad Name” when Palmer finds himself in the friend zone.
Palmer has nightmares of a lightsaber duel with a Darth Vader Feldman, who shows his true colors when a new girl comes to school and forgets his campaign promise, while McFerrin learns karate from a mysterious Mr. Miyagi.
Two teachers in the musical have their own relationship, until math teacher Steven “Stevie” Cocker (played by Caleb Hett) finds his English teacher lover plastered on the centerfold of a risque magazine, with “Centerfold” spicing it up.
Narrated by Palmer’s older self (played by Hap Waddell), the musical includes a house party set to “Love Shack,” girls overjoyed at finding love letters sing “Walking on Sunshine,” a prom-posal includeing “Never Gonna Give You Up” before a rejection with “Material Girl,” and a serenade to the subject of a cruel prank with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Killough said the audience is welcome to leave singing — or even sing in the reprise at the end of the show.
Three performances include 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are available in advance at The County Seat for $2 for students and $3 for adults, and for $5 at the door.
Last modified Nov. 15, 2017