Back to the 80s, a musical by Neil Gooding, tells the story of 17-year-old Corey Palmer as he tries to navigate his senior year of high school. Corey is a classic underdog, routinely beaten in all aspects by Micheal Feldman, the stereotypical captain of the football team. They compete for the affection of Tiffany Housten while both trying to win the class president elections, also running against school nerd, Feargal McFerrinIII. There is the expected high school drama, complete with cheesy music, colourful costumes and lively choreography.
Clear stand-out performances include Harry Normanton (Corey Palmer), who has previously also starred in Brickhouse’s Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Alex Harris (Feargal McFerrin III), and Harry Burke (Micheal Feldman). Harry Normanton’s portrayal of Corey left you rooting for the underdog and empathising during the highly comical Star Wars dream sequence, featuring Yoda and a lightsabre battle with Darth Vader, revealed to be Micheal Feldman. Alex showed clear dedication to the character, one that you start off laughing at but end up laughing with. Particular highlights were the continued references to The Karate Kid, including his enthusatic training to become a young grasshopper, and taking on Micheal Feldman to become the unsung hero of the story. Harry Burke acted so proficiently that you were left cheering at his inevitable downfall. Burke threw himself into the role without hesitation, leading to some high-energy and comical dancing. The three performances brought the play to life and provided continual comedy.
The directors made a bold choice in attempting to have the cast perform with an American accent. This challenge was met to varying degrees of success, occasionally providing unintentional hilarity. The cast tried their best despite a few technical issues with the microphones, with these sometimes coming on too late or not at all.
Despite having its difficulties, this was still a great play that had you laughing at ever opportunity. A particular moment of comedic gold include nerd Debbie Fox’s (played by Claire Hemingway) brutal comeback to Micheal Feldman in defenceof new student Eileen after he reveals his true bullying nature. Another highlight was the duet by the two Harry’s, who thoroughly committed to The Proclaimer’s I’m Gonna Be (500 miles), equipped with Scottish paraphenalia, accents to suit, and air guitars. An additional fantastic song was The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star, performed by Alex Harris and his entourage. All three remained remarkably in character for its duration, both in voice and in dance, with with truly comedic results. A particular mention also to the band for a fantastic performance of challenging songs from a variety of genres, especially a brilliant saxophone solo in Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.
Overall, Brickhouse’s Back to the 80s was filled with hilarity and nostalgia. The performances and songs left you wanting more, and I know that I’ll be singing them for weeks. A definite must-see if you want an evening full of laughter and great music.
Claire McComas, 3UGrad, Robinson College and Sneha Barai, 3UGrad, Robinson College