London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School might not have been around during the 1980s, but there will be plenty of students dressed in neon colours or wearing tight, acid washed jeans for the next few weeks.
Mother Teresa students are putting on Back to the '80s, a play written by Neil Gooding, which follows a group of high school seniors as they wrap up their graduating year at William Ocean High. The story could be traced back to Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful or any of 1980s era boy-loves-girl-he-thinks-he-can-never-have movies.
Ed Mac Neil, a drama teacher Mother Teresa and the show’s director, said the story — and in particular the music — are universal for high school students today, even if they weren’t born at the time they first happened.
“It is amazing, even though these kids weren’t even born in the ‘80s; they know every song,” Mac Neil said. “The kids really respond well to this type of music and the characters fit them because they are in high school. The issues are the same.”
In the case of Back to the 80s, the story revolves around Corey Palmer (played by Graeme Rooney) who is in love with the girl next door, Tiffany Houston (played by Gabryela Gooding-Krysinska). It takes some time, but Tiffany eventually realizes her cool guy boyfriend is a jerk and so ends up going to the prom with Corey.
For Graeme, a Grade 11 student, the themes might be well known, but that is only part of the story.
“Really, it is the best history lesson ever. It is a cliché story, but it is also a little different,” Graeme said. “It is all about the school, an election, it isn’t just the boy meets girl, there are so many things going on.”
Mac Neil said the story might sound a little cliché, but it does wrap up the high school experience fairly well — regardless of the time period in question.
“There is no specific year . . . it could any point during the 1980s. It is the final year, the graduating class at William Ocean; basically, it is a typical high school story,” Mac Neil said. “It is who likes who, who is in love with who, there is the student council election, the cliques, the cool kids and the nerds into Star Wars and Rubik Cubes. It has all the hit music of the ‘80s, it is definitely a fun show.”
For Max Bowser, who plays Alf Bueller, the idea of the Back to the 80s serving as a history lesson is well made.
“It is like we are learning more about what happened in the ‘80s just by being in the play,” said Max, who is in Grade 11. “Mr. Mac Neil would tell us some of the things that happened, how things come back. So it is like a history lesson.”
Although he appreciates the history lesson the show provides the students, Mac Neil said he thinks the show offers students something even more important. Besides being a lot of fun, Mac Neil said Back to the 80s is giving students the opportunity to shine in more ways than just strutting their stuff on the stage.
“Every aspect of the show, all the technical stuff, the kids built the sets, students run the lighting, students run the sound, they run the box office, put the program together, generate ads, design the poster. Everything is student generated, student run,” Mac Neil said. “It is very important they are hands on because it teaches them commitment, focus, time management, taking pride in the things they do, and some of them just shine.”
And there are certainly many opportunities for students to show that pride. With a cast of 40 students, another 10-15 in the orchestra, and many more taking on hair and makeup responsibilities, Mac Neil said there are about 150 students taking part in the show.
Graeme said the students have had to learn the “different language” that was used during the 1980s, along with the fashion and hairstyles that were popular at the time. Graeme and Max are even growing mullets for the show.
Whether it is wearing a mullet, or some tight, acid-washed jeans, Max said the entire cast is hopeful audiences will enjoy Back to the 80s, whether they lived through the decade or not.
“My parents, they were excited I was going to be in it because they knew how crazy those times were. But it is also a time they remember too,” Max said. “I hope (everyone who attends the show) can relate to it too and see and remember things. I want them to see how hard we worked on it, getting all the costumes, making all the props. I really hope they appreciate it. To see it all together is pretty cool.”
The Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School (1065 Sunningdale Rd. E.) production of Back to the 80s takes place Nov. 22-24. Tickets are $15 and all seats are reserved.
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