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Ligonier Valley presents musical tribute to the 1980s

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 4:22 p.m.

Ligonier Valley High School will perform the annual spring musical 7 p.m. March 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. in the Ligonier Valley High School Auditorium.

This year's show is “Back in the 80s” which director Melanie Hayllar described as a look back at all the quintessential, even ubiquitous high school characters, interwoven with 1980s pop music.

“No matter when you come of age, there are certain experiences that are universal, whether it was the '70s, the '80s, the '90s, or now, everyone can relate to what is going on, on stage,” Hayllar said. “I'm hoping it brings back a lot of fun memories. Everybody knows the music, and everybody loves it. You may not love all of it, but there is definitely a song in there that is going to make you go ‘Ah! That's such a great one!'”

The story draws from the memory of Corey, who looks back over his senior year in 1989. The '80s Corey, played by junior Jared Bloom, has a crush on Tiffany Houston, the girl next door played by senior Ally Frye. However, Tiffany falls for Michael Feldman, a jock played by senior Josh Lamonde, and the plot thickens, affecting the high school experiences of these three characters, their friends, and the rest of the ensemble, numbering 30 students.

“I was very big on picking an ensemble-based show that showcased as many of the kids' talents as we could as opposed to one male lead and one female lead,” Hayllar said. “I wanted to look at what had a lot of great and interesting characters, so everyone could take part in it.”

Hayllar also noted that it has been an interesting experience having high school students play characters that are also high school students. Cast members talked about falling into their roles much more naturally because of the similarities to which they can relate.

“Everyone definitely fits their roles. It's very high school,” Bloom said.

Lamonde said the high school drama in the play is completely identical to what you'll see today.

“It doesn't take as much acting finesse. You can definitely get into your character a lot more easily,” Lamonde said.

Cast members said the music was what drew them in and made them want to participate in the show.

“All the songs are really upbeat,” Frye said. “So especially with the choreography is it more fun to be able to dance around and have fun.”

Lamonde said it's easy to read.

“Pretty much all of us know the music to begin with and that's a big relief,” Lamonde said. “Normally in a musical you have to learn the songs on top of the choreography and the lines. It allows you to sit back and enjoy the musical a lot more.”

Bloom said it was a better way to make the show their own.

“There are so many shows where they're all just done the same. But with the songs that you know, you can make it your own, add a twist, and people will still understand the point,” said Bloom.

They cast agreed that older audience members will be able to relate to the story, going so far as to come dressed in their old clothes from the '80s.

“The kids are having so much fun, I just think it's going to be contagious,” Hayllar said. “The audience is going to really respond, because they have so much energy. When you when you watch them you can tell they are really having fun up there, and that's really important.”

Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for students.

Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.