POWELL, Wyo. - Dust off your moonwalk, dig out your prom dress and don't forget your Rubik's Cube. That's what director Fred Ebert is encouraging audience members to do before they come to "The Awesome '80s Prom," staged Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium in Powell.
The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m., but the action gets underway earlier, according to Ebert, an instructor in speech communications and forensics at Northwest College. "Don't be surprised if you see the captain of the football team, head cheerleader, an Asian foreign exchange student (think "Karate Kid"), the principal and other high school personalities arriving at the same time you do," Ebert said. "And I hear Michael Jackson, Tiffany, MC Hammer or even Elvis Presley might be coming, too, but I can't be sure."
And he's not kidding about wearing prom regalia to the performance. "This is a highly interactive play where the audience ends up becoming part of the show," Ebert said. "It's everybody's prom night and before it's over we'll all be dancing, drinking punch and voting for the prom king and queen." Because the audience plays a pivotal role in the improvisational plot, the ending is likely to be different each night.
"The great thing is this prom isn't just an '80s prom. It's everybody's prom," Ebert said. It's guaranteed to remind everybody of their prom, regardless of their age or hometown." The music, however, will focus on the '80s with an ear for super hits like "Celebration," "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "You Can't Touch This."
And just like prom, the action doesn't stay on the dance floor. Audience members might find themselves in the bathroom planning how to get the shy guy his first kiss or in other parts of the building as they join the action.
Ebert advises local high school coaches to attend just to defend themselves; it's likely there'll be a little lampooning in that direction. "Music directors aren't safe either," he added, "Oh, and if anybody knows Peewee, make sure he gets to the prom on time."
The 27 actors needed more than acting skills to prepare for this production. According to Ebert, they also had to get a handle on improvisational theater and, after preparing for their roles, are perhaps now the area's most knowledgeable demographic when it comes to '80s trivia.
"Since it's a community theater production, our actors range from six years young to one guy who's really old," Ebert said. "The cast includes two sets of parents and their children, plus a brother-sister duo."
Admission is $5. Prom regalia is ultimately optional, but highly recommended.
Elizabeth Merrill (also Hauula, HI)
Jordan Christopher Moore
Park City MT:
Jim Tera Saw