Kingsland students bringing awesome ‘80s to stage in May

The cast of Kingsland's spring musical rehearses under the direction of Megan Hammon. This year's show will spoof all the things that made the 1980s great, not so great and most certainly memorable. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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Kingsland drama students are headed back to the ‘80s in big-haired musical performances the weekend of May 12.

“Back to the ‘80s!  The Totally Awesome Musical” is the play chosen by Kingsland director Megan Hammon for the 2018 spring musical, complete with tunes from Cyndi Lauper and other rock artists of the Plastic Decade.   

“This is a large ensemble show, so all of the students have their own little moment to shine.  This show is so much fun…paying homage to and making fun of everything 1980s,” stated Hammon. “I have students in seventh grade all the way through seniors, and every one has helped shape the show in some way.  I am so proud to be able to work with them and am impressed with them every day.”

The cast features the talents of Gabrielle Ronnenberg, Daniel Hayes-Hall, Delia Dahl, Audrey Farlinger, Reese Wolf, Renee Lechner, Emily Biermann, Wesley Dean, Charlie Emig, Treyton Pokorney, William Jahn, Abby Biermann, Josie Sanford, Reilly Lawson, Lily Freet and Josh Meskill, accompanied by stage crew members Victoria Hershberger and Kendall Drury-DeBoer. 

Rehearsals began in early March, and Hammon is pleased with the effort that her students have invested in their characters and the choreography. 

“I have so many talented students.  They are amazing singers, dancers and actors.  I’m trying to have the students more involved in the nuts and bolts of the show, so I have one student blocking a couple fight scenes, and two of my ladies who have dance backgrounds are choreographing four whole numbers on their own,” she said.  “This show really allows for the students to be creative and goofy.  We have had many, many laugh attacks so far.”    

The thespians have gotten very comfortable with their throwback roles, enjoying “the fact that they get to be silly,” said Hammon.  “Sometimes theater is so serious, but this show certainly is not.  The more ridiculous ideas are being embraced and implemented, and they are fantastic.” 

This show also lets them play with different high school stereotypes, she added, so there are students who get to play “overblown examples” of the super geek, the cheerleader and the girl next door.  The greatest challenges they’ve navigated so far are with their own feet as they learn how to dance. 

“This show has a ton of music, which means a lot of choreography.  Even though I have students with dance backgrounds, the majority of my students have never danced before, so when trying to learn and remember everything, it can be a little overwhelming,” she said. “So far, though, everything I’ve thrown at the students, they have soaked it up.  I love seeing this show take shape.  All the pieces are slowly coming together, and it is so much fun to see these kids play up the character traits.  There are moments of sheer comedy brilliance that are things that I had nothing to do with.  I love watching the students grow, come out of their shell and have fun.  I love seeing the kids laugh and have fun with the characters they are creating.  It’s also fun to see the students helping each other, teach each other and take ownership of the show so soon into the process.”

Audiences who grew up in the ‘80s or who are still learning about the truth of jelly shoes and Hubba Bubba bubble gum are sure to enjoy the show, according to the director.  She wants this to be as much fun for the audience as it has been for the students. It is a fun family show that features some of the most recognizable songs from the ‘80s, including “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Jitterbug,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and many more. 

“There are surprises, but if I told, they wouldn’t be surprises,” said Hammon. “I will say that you might not want to sit at the end of a row if you don’t want to be asked to dance.  You won’t want to miss this show.” 

The show will be on stage May 11 and 12 at 7 p.m., and May 13 at 2 p.m. at the Spring Valley Community Center.  Tickets will be available at the door — $10 for adults, $7 for students, and children 3 and under are admitted free.  There are tentative plans to hold the annual dinner theater on Saturday, which requires pre-purchased tickets. More details will be available soon.