Staples Players Presents BACK TO THE 80S
Revisit the totally awesome 80's with the Class of 1984 at William Ocean High School in this nostalgic romp through the greatest hits of the decade. Most of the cast members in this high-energy show are actually in the classes of 2018 through 2023, but they've fallen as hard for the snappy songs of the 80's as the big-haired teens of the day did. One of those teens, a bonafide 1984 graduate, will take the stage for the first time in 35 years, as the show's narrator. Back to the 80's runs from July 12 to 14 and is co-directed by David Roth (SHS '84...hint, hint) and Kerry Long (SHS '97).
"Love Shack," "Come on Eileen," "Centerfold," "Mickey,"-that's just a taste of the musical treat audiences are in for in this show from the era that brought the world the Rubik's Cube, Max Headroom, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In the style of movies like Back to the Future and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the 80's features a a Star Wars dream sequence, totally tubular dance numbers, the obligatory 80's party scene, copious amounts of blue eye shadow, twenty cans of hairspray, and some of the most popular songs ever written.
Director David Roth says, "We were looking for a super fun show that features lots of kids and Back to the 80's fit that perfectly. This is also a show that will have audience members dancing in the aisles to their favorite songs. The music is just so infectious. What is really surprising is that the kids know so much of this music already and listen to it regularly."
Roth is not only directing this show. He explains, "Back to the 80's, besides being a mash-up of so many 80's teen movies, tells the story of Corey Palmer's senior year. The play is narrated by Corey in 2019, 35 years after he graduated high school, so there is an older actor playing the narrator. When I told our producer Michele Wrubel that I had graduated from Staples High School in 1984, she thought it would be really fun if I played the older character. Once I mentioned it to some of the students, there was no turning back!" Roth admits, "I'm a little nervous. It's been 35 years since I performed on this stage. That was when I played the emcee in Cabaret directed by Al Pia, in my senior year. This is also the first time my daughter Lucy will see me on stage."
"It's great having Mr. Roth as a cast mate," says Sam Laskin (SHS '20), who shares the role of class nerd Feargal McFerrin with Max Evans (SHS '19). "Although he never directly interacts with our characters onstage, his presence is definitely noticed. Some of the narration he gives while recalling Corey's youth is hilarious!" Laskin's character, while discussing dated technology, sings the prophetic tune "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Summer shows offer former Players the opportunity to return to their alma mater's stage. Charlie Zuckerman (SHS '18) plays Corey Palmer, Jr., the younger version of the narrator. Zuckerman says, "It feels great to be back on the Staples stage. Not only did I miss the quality of the shows, but I missed the people. It is so much fun to be performing with them again." His character is nicknamed "Corey Pathetic Palmer" and he "LOVES Polos," says Zuckerman. He mentions a few favorite numbers and anyone who didn't live under a rock in the 80's can guess one song from this hint: "We get to bust out a little dirty dancing!" Any Players' fan who witnessed his epic rendition of "Franklin Shepard Inc." in Merrily We Roll Along will be excited to hear that Zuckerman has decided to change paths in college and audition for musical theater programs next year. Bravo!
Jasper Burke (SHS '21) plays cool kid Lionel Astley. "What's challenging about this character is he doesn't really have a predetermined 'thing' going for him like Huey, who is a huge Michael Jackson fan, or Billy, who is a huge Rick Astley fan, so they both mimic these guys," explains Burke. "But this at the same time makes it all the more fun because it's up to me to decide how I want to play Lionel, and it's up to me to create his 'thing.'" Burke adds, "Many 80's songs have been popular for decades beyond the time period and I think it's all amazing music. For many people seeing this show, I'm certain it will be a fantastic trip down memory lane."
Karalyn Hood (SHS '20) has her hands full as stage manager, set designer, and scenic charge for this show but she's loving the challenge. "I first got introduced to stage managing my freshman year by Jack Norman, who was a senior at the time and is coincidentally also on the team for this show. So this process has been really full circle for us," says Hood. In addition to Norman (SHS '17), Players alumni Whitney O'Reardon (SHS '18) is back on tech crew (sets), and Jill Gault (SHS '18) plays Eileen Reagan.
"I think audiences are going to love the incredible music directed by Don Rickenback and terrific choreography by Rachel MacIsaac," says Roth. "They'll love the 80's costumes, the big hair, the Star Wars fantasy sequence, and reliving a totally awesome decade!"
Don't miss a great outing that will have you blasting the boom box--err car radio, umm iPhone?--for the rest of the summer.
Friday, July 12, 7:30 PM
Saturday, July 13, 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
Sunday, July 14, 3:00 PM
STAPLES HIGH SCHOOL MAIN STAGE
70 North Avenue, WestportTICKET PRICES
Adults: $20 Students: $15 Seniors (matinees only): $15
Available for purchase online at staplesplayers.com. Tickets will also be available for sale in the lobby 30 minutes prior to performances. Cash or check please; no credit cards for lobby sales.