Olentangy Valley News

Orange actors party like it's 1985

Interactive play invites audience to enjoy 1980s prom with cast

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JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
Cast members listen as Jake MacFarland, 17, playing the wet-blanket principal, rehearses for The Awesome '80s Prom on Monday, Oct. 29, at Olentangy Orange High School. The interactive play takes the stage Friday through Sunday, Nov. 2-4.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The latest production from Olentangy Orange High School's theater department is as much an interactive party as a play.

The Awesome '80s Prom will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2-4.

Throughout the show, audience members can talk to and even dance with cast members in front of the stage while a dozen stories unfold as the students of Wannaget High School look for love, acceptance and opportunities for mischief.

The show takes place during a prom, and the story alternates between short narrative scenes and free-flowing improvised portions during which students will dance, party and interact with audience members.

"You can have a different experience every time you see the show," said Cathy Swain-Abrams, the school's drama director.

Audience members who show up early can mingle with in-character cast members, who will drink punch, take photos and enter the auditorium alongside audience members as if they're arriving at a real school dance.

The cast features high school characters pulled straight from '80s teen comedies such as The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles: jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, outcasts and a couple of over-eager foreign-exchange students.

In one of the show's many storylines, the school's nerdiest math whiz is doing his best to impress his headgear-wearing crush, Kerrie, played by Sydney Schaefer -- but she's head over heels for the football team's star quarterback.

"My character sees prom as his big chance to finally get the love of his life," said cast member Joshua Knight, who plays the geeky Louis.

Meanwhile, the quarterback is thinking about getting back together with his cheerleader ex-girlfriend, Whitley, played by Kaleigh Jurcisek.

"We're still off and on in our relationship, so my goal at prom is to make everyone else feel miserable so I can feel good about myself," Jurcisek said.

Since the show features numerous improvised portions, cast members have been working hard to get to know their characters.

"I basically have to just try to be as cranky and unwelcoming as possible," said Jake MacFarland, who plays the sourpuss Principal Snelgrove. "The whole time I'm trying to ruin their party because I hate, just hate, prom."

At the end of the show, audience members will cast a ballot for their favorite characters to become prom king and queen, and the show has multiple endings depending on their choice.

Theater-goers are encouraged to dress in their finest prom attire, and everyone is invited to interact and dance during the show.

"We want everyone to have a great time," said Michael Fraser, who plays the troublemaker Nick Fender. "It's just as much a party as a show."

But audience members who simply want to sit back, laugh and enjoy the show are just as welcome, cast members said.

The show is rated PG-13 for some light-hearted innuendo and references to drugs and alcohol, in the vein of teen comedies.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and may be purchased at the door.

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