Remember when actors became American Presidents? When blue eye shadow was cool? When Atari was cutting edge technology? From the era that brought the world the Rubik’s Cube, Max Headroom, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes a “totally awesome” musical in the style of movies such as “Back to the Future,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Karate Kid,” and “The Wedding Singer.”
“Back to the 80s” is the musical Fennimore High School has chosen as its fall performance this year. The musical, written by Neil Gooding, in cooperation with Music Theatre International, tells the story of the senior class of William Ocean High School that graduated in the 1980s, as remembered and seen through the eyes of Corey Palmer (Everett Schwer), who is now 30 something.
The then 17-year-old Corey (Aaron Swan) is madly in love with his next-door neighbor, Tiffany Houston (Sydney Whitaker), one of the coolest girls in school. However, she barely notices him, as she is too busy mooning over Michael Feldman (Nick Varela), the hottest guy around. Michael and his friends (Ryan Ashmore, Trevor Lyster, and Joe Heberlein) are athletic and the kind of guys that Corey and his two best friends (Logan Udelhofen and Jared Yanna) dream of being. However, while they may not be the coolest guys in school, they are still one up on Feargal McFerrin III (Kyle Lange), whose best friend is his computer, and who believes the crazy notion that one day CDs will replace cassette tapes. During the year, new student Eileen (Erika Trefz) arrives and Michael and his gang start sending her fake love letters. Meanwhile, the teachers, Mr. Cocker (Brandon Whitish) and Miss Brannigan (Lyndsey Biddick), are having issues of their own.
“It’s a happy ending,” said Tonia Schildgen, who is co-directing the musical with fellow FHS teacher Lisa Evans. “It’s definitely something for the whole family. Little kids will enjoy the music more than the story, and adults will have fun hearing the music. It’s so high energy, with more music than we’ve done in the past. The pit crew is having a hard time playing instead of dancing.”
Some of the tunes familiar to audiences might be “Love Shack,” “Kids in America,” “Man in the Mirror,” and “500 miles” as well as many more that were popular in the 80s.
Taking on the music is a cast totaling 41, and Schildgen said everyone is doing a fantastic job in their roles.
“Our cast is really super talented this year. I haven’t had to direct as much; the kids have kind of taken a lot of it upon themselves,” she said. “Our chorus is very dedicated about showing up every time.”
Seniors with main roles in this year’s musical are Whitaker, Trefz, Varela, Ashmore, Schwer, Heberlein and Brianna Frazier. Seniors in the chorus are Alyssa Campbell, Taylor Henkel, Rachel Howell, Rayna McClaren, Amanda Millin, Brooke Samuelson and Trent Davis, who has a featured singing part. His dad and FHS teacher Gregg Davis is also a featured singer in the show.
As always, a large part of the shows will include the pit orchestra, directed by Larry Albrecht. Also helping out again this year, Cory Bussan is the technical director and Cleo Ware is working on costuming.
“Back to the 80s” is anticipated to last a couple of hours. It includes two acts with intermission.
To find out what happens, take a journey “Back to the 80s.” FHS will have two performances in the high school gym on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. Tickets will be sold in advance in the high school office. Advance prices are $3 for adults and $2 for students and children. Tickets at the door will be $5 for adults and $3 for students and children.