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Interview: Musical Director Chase McAbee of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN at Centre Stage

Eighties music revue runs through January 9 at Greenville SC's Centre Stage

Interview: Musical Director Chase McAbee of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN at Centre Stage I admit it - I have a strong preference for eighties music. And I must not be the only one, since the pop masterpieces of Journey, Van Halen, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Toto, Elton John, etc. have effectively become the soundtrack of modern life, greeting us as background music wherever we go, from the grocery store to the mall. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Centre Stage brings us the hits of those chart-topping artists and many more in their new musical revue, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, that opened last weekend and runs through January 9. It's also peppered with Christmas and New Year favorites that make it a perfect holiday confection.

I asked the show's music director, Chase McAbee, to tell us how this treat came together.


BWW: First off, how did you go about putting together this revue ? What is the general theme?

Myself, The Director, and some of the Centre Stage staff put together a list of some of the biggest and best hits of the 80s, added a few numbers to incorporate the holiday season, created some medleys, and tried to include as many songs that we could that have not been done at Centre Stage in the last 10 years or so! After some trimming and editing throughout the rehearsal process, we now have our finished production. We try our best to have an even balance of tempos, make sure our performers get some time to breathe and cool off between sets, and keep the audience on the edge of their seat wondering what 80s hit they'll get to sing and dance to next!Interview: Musical Director Chase McAbee of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN at Centre Stage

Tell us a little about the cast as well as about the band and the primary creative team members.

This cast is a good mixture of some Centre Stage familiars (Josh and Kristofer) and some folks that are new to the Centre Stage rock shows (Meg, Ashley, Miranda, and Drake, all of whom have been in multiple shows around the upstate)! The band is comprised of some of the most talented and sought after musicians in the upstate. Greg Day is a fantastic band leader/bassist and always knocks it out of the park with all the instrument arrangements of the songs! Kristofer (director/choreographer) and myself (music director) are rock show veterans and we always have a great time working together on these productions! Eilidh McKinnon has done an incredible job as our stage manager while Wyatt Duncan's costuming has made sure our performers look their best with a style fusion of 80s and present-day rockers. Paul Kwok gives the audience an incredible light show to accompany the stellar band and singers, all while lighting up the 80's inspired set design by Rick Connor.

Have you had any challenges with this material as far as matching singers with songs, or working out harmonies?

The biggest challenge is always matching voices to song choices, giving each performer a balanced set load, and making sure all of our key signatures fit well in the singers' vocal ranges while ensuring those key signatures are playable for our band. It takes a week or so to get all of that solidified as Music rehearsals start, but once we nail that down, the show starts coming together much easier and quicker.

Interview: Musical Director Chase McAbee of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN at Centre Stage How do you balance holiday fare with big, fun eighties jams?

First and foremost, this is a rock show, so we wanted to make sure the rock n' roll didn't get lost in the holiday tunes. To do that, we have a small Christmas set at the end of act one and a small New Years set at the end of act two before rounding the show out with the title song for the big finale!

What do you hope audiences will get out of watching this show?

We want our audiences to come out, cut loose (hint hint!), sing along, dance around, and have a blast. The 80s gave us some of the best rock music in the genre so we want to take our audiences back to those years and make sure our younger audience members are exposed to some REAL rock n' roll.


Interview: Musical Director Chase McAbee of THE FINAL COUNTDOWN at Centre Stage



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From This Author - Neil Shurley

Neil Shurley has been covering the Greenville SC arts scene since 2001. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association, his theatre-related work has appeared in such publications as The ... (read more about this author)


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