by Emily Armentrout
Director Jessica Keaffaber, with assistant director and sister, Samantha Kramer, brought a musical back to Southwood High School for the first time in years this past weekend. Back to the 80s… a Totally Awesome Musical is a story about Corey Palmer’s senior year in the 80s, as told by his 30-year-old self. This musical uses popular songs from the 80s to bring Palmer’s senior year to life.
The adult Corey Palmer was played by Southwood senior Brett Wyatt.
“I’m not a singer. I was scared to death, but Jessica knows me and she contacted me with the smaller part. She knows I love theater,” Wyatt told The Paper. “It’s been a great experience and I stepped out of my comfort zone and it was definitely worth it,” added Wyatt.
Wyatt’s Corey only performed one song, “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi, while young Corey, played by Andrew Finicle, was a part of many group songs, along with some of his own solos.
The story centered on not only Palmer’s senior year, but also the girl of his dreams. Tiffany Houston, played by freshman Erika Ziner.
“It makes me feel really honored that Jessica put enough trust in me to trust me with a bigger role and I have definitely loved every bit of it,” Ziner told The Paper.
Ziner played a part of the popular crowd, who was the center of not only Corey’s attention but also that of “Mr. Popular,” Michael Feldman, played by Adam Bott. This triangle comes to a head with Palmer and Feldman proclaiming their love for Tiffany with their rendition of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers.
Though Tiffany first picks Feldman, Palmer eventually gets the girl when Feldman and his friends make fun of new student, Eileen, played by senior Cera Wilson.
“I love to sing. It’s not just getting away for practices, but it’s giving me relief to sing. I’m a big 80s fan. I love it. I think it should be a variety. Musicals take a lot of time and energy, so I think it’s nice to have one every once in a while. If I got to choose, I’d pick musicals.” said Wilson.
The song included popular songs of the decade like “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, “Material Girl” by Madonna, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, “Love Shack” by the B-52’s and many more. Music was directed by Chris Hickman, with Judy Ward on piano. Devin Holmes played bass guitar with Kolten Kersey on the trumpet, Mike Klinger on the tenor saxophone, Shelby Coffelt on the trombone, Josh Hobson on the drums and Spencer Mahan on the electric guitar.
The cast included Brett Wyatt, Andrew Finicle, Erika Ziner, Adam Bott, Adam Spaulding, Alec Guenin, Lakin Wimmer, Kate Baxter, Josie Marchetti, Sean Babbitt, Allen Warren, Isaac Cooper, Nathanael Fadil, Cera Wilson, Mariah Paris, Jordan Vielee, Caitlin Riggle, Waylon Gillum, Shelby Duell, Stacia Stepler, Nicole Ward, Nikita Jacobs, Hannah Miller, Holly Coffelt, Jonah Stouffer and special voice over by Wade Weaver.
Jessica Keaffaber directed the production with help from assistant director, Samantha Kramer. Lighting technicians were David Siler and Nathan McCown and audio engineer Tom Coath. Set design was by Samantha Kramer and Gary Dale, with choreography also by Samantha Kramer.
“These kids are amazing. They are so talented. It was a great show. I couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Keaffaber of the cast. “Last night was great. They were having a ball on stage and we were having just as much of a ball backstage. We were singing and dancing along with them. We had a great time, and we’re glad the audience did too,” added Kramer.