Ryan Goodell is a lead and narrator in this reminiscence of a class election at the fading end of the Eighties.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Pump up your Reeboks and power up that Atari because the 1980s are alive in well at Drury High School this weekend.
The Drury Performing Arts Center will bring the jukebox musical "Back to the '80s" for four performances at the high school.
"It is not your typical musical it is all '80s music," director Nicole Rizzo said. "It tells the story through the songs we all know and love from the '80s. The songs drive the characters' narratives."
The musical, written by Neil Gooding, tells the story of the 1989 graduating class of William Ocean High narrated by Corey Palmer, who will be played by Ryan Goodell.
Corey reflects on his high school years from the vantage point of adulthood and reflects on the class president race during which he vies against his rival and the most popular boy in school Michael Feldman, played by Ben LaForest.
Tied up in the heated election is Tiffany Houston, played by Holly Boudreau, who although is involved in Michael's campaign is Corey's lifelong love interest. Tiffany sees Corey as a friend, however, and is oblivious to his true feelings.
The musical follows a cast of characters reminiscent of any John Hughes film through the school year as they navigate the like totally tubular and bodacious neon-colored waters of high school in the '80s.
"You will see the popular guy, the geek, the popular girl ... it is reminiscent of 'Pretty in Pink,' 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Say Anything'," Rizzo said. "Those stories are highlighted throughout ... and we all know those stories from the '80s
Rizzo noted that the music is not scored like a typical musical and relies on pop songs that are far different and create challenges. She said the actors, musicians and crew are diving right in.
"I grew up in the '80s so it is close to my heart for me those were my icons, like Madonna and WHAM," she said. "They are getting it though and it has been really cool because they were open to '80s research and are delving into the hair and the fashion."
Boudreau added that although they did not grow up in the era, the students are familiar with the music because they have heard their parents play it.
"We really know all of these songs, which is different because usually with musical it is all new to us," she said. "The musical is built around the music instead of the music being built around the musical."
Goodell agreed and said the musical really has something for everyone.
"Adults like our parents will love this because this is their time, and everyone has listened to 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' or 'Foot Loose,' " he said. "It will just bring back great memories."
Rizzo said approximately 50 students are involved in the production that reaches across all departments in the art wing of Drury High School. Along with the theater students, arts management students under lighting and sound designer Jamie Choquette and band members under musical director Christopher Caproni are involved.
"That's why I love this school so much it is the only school that does everything in-house," Rizzo said. "It creates a solid community in the school and we are all working together. It allows the program to thrive."
Rizzo added that the set is also a huge part of the production and it allows for seamless transitions between scenes and musical numbers.
"We wanted to bring it forth like a rock concert and didn't want it to look like a typical classroom or outside on stage," she said. "We wanted that rock-show idea where we could tell the story and keep everything alive."
She said there are 26 songs in the musical and because the music was so important, the band was placed right on the stage – with Devo hats and all.
Rizzo said the show opens Thursday night at 7 and there are also shows Friday and Saturday at the same time. There is also a matinee Saturday at 2.
Tickets will be sold at the door but can be purchased ahead of time here.
"I want people to see that there is educational theater taking place in North Adams ... arts are usually the first thing to go when money gets tight, but I want people to see it is alive and well and happening right here in our back yard," Rizzo said.
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