'Glee' meets 'Grease' in stage production

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealLindsay Burroughs and fellow cast members rehearse a scene for the Carson Performing Arts production of the musical comedy "Back to the '80s."

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealLindsay Burroughs and fellow cast members rehearse a scene for the Carson Performing Arts production of the musical comedy "Back to the '80s."

Fourteen football field lengths of masking tape, several months of rehearsal and a cast and crew are just a few ingredients that have gone into "Back to the '80s," a musical extravaganza presented by Carson Performing Arts.

The musical "does for '80s music what Grease did for '60s music," said director Karen Chandler, drama instructor for the Carson High School theater group.

Written and adapted by Neil Gooding, "Back to the '80s" includes many of the songs that shaped a generation. ASCAP and BMI gave permission for the songs to be used and the show, which opened first in Australia and London, has received critical acclaim and played to sold out audiences.

"When we were looking for a show for this season, we didn't know who would be teaching voice," Chandler said. "We found this through Music Theater International, which carries big (show) titles ... and it's perfect."

Featuring such hits as "Shot Through The Heart," "Kids in America" "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us," "Footloose," Walking on Sunshine," and more, the show is guaranteed to take audiences back to their own high school years and happy memories. Singing along is optional.

"Kids love anything retro, so they've thrown themselves into this, showing up in costumes, many they got from their (parents') closets," Chandler said.

The story is told by the narrator who's looking back on his high school years. CHS band teacher Jerod Sorum provides the voice and also conducts the high school jazz band during the performance.

Every name in the show is a bastardization of something from the 1980s.

Take for instance character Fergal McFerrin, a visionary nerd who can see the future of technology in a storyline that ties the past with the present.

"Kids are kids no matter the generation and this is a bit 'Glee' meets 'Grease,'" Chandler said. "But it's wonderful to do a show - and what is often a challenge in school theater - that's relevant and meaningful."

The entire set is comprised of Rubic's cubes - hence the great quantities of masking tape, used in the painting process.

"We've been painting Rubic's cubes for four months," Chandler said, explaining how painting scaffolding was used as the framework with additional cubes built out from that.

"They are beautiful; peoples' eyes will pop out of their heads when they see the set."

Carson High School's drama department stages several, high-quality productions each year.

Kathleen Bryant, a senior this year, stepped up as stage manager, a career she wants to pursue professionally. Choreographer Gina Davis, voice coach Andy Sonnemaker and conductor Sorum all contributed to what is an amazing team, Chandler said.

"It's what we do and the commitment to excellence - the premise that the attitude is gratitude - means we have many who go on to great schools and a lot of alumni working professionally in the industry," Chandler said. "Anyone 35 to 45 will get a hoot out of this and we're gonna have some fun.

"I hope the community comes out to support the show ... everyone will leave singing 'Love Shack.'"

All performances take place at the Carson City Community Center, corner of Roop Street and Highway 50. The show opens at 7 p.m. Friday with additional performances Saturday at 7 p.m., March 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. and a matinee, March 27 at 2 p.m.

Tickets cost $10, general admission; $9 for seniors and regular students and $8 for those 12 and younger, available at the door.


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