Back to the '80s - The Guide to Musical Theatre - Show Synopsis

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Back to the '80s

A Musical in 2 Acts by Neil Gooding; additional material by Stuart Smith; revised orchestrations and arrangements by Brett Foster. Original musical adaptation by Scott Copeman


Remember when actors became American Presidents? When Bubble skirts and blue eye shadow were cool? When Atari was cutting edge technology ? From the era that brought the world The Rubik's Cube, Max Headroom and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes this "totally awesome" musical in the style of movies such as Back To The Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Karate Kid and The Wedding Singer.

Set in the USA,the story tells of the senior class of William Ocean High School that graduated in the 1980s, as remembered and seen through the eyes of Corey Palmer, who is now 30-something.

The then 17-year-old Corey is madly in love with his next-door neighbour, Tiffany Houston, one of the coolest girls in the school. However, she barely notices this, as she is too busy mooning over Michael Feldman, the hottest guy around. Michael and his friends are athletic and good-looking - the kind of guys that Corey and his two best friends dream of being. However, while they may not be the coolest guys in school, they are still one up on Feargal McFerrin III, whose best friend is his computer, and who believes the crazy notion that one day CDs will replace cassette tapes.

The year commences with Class President Elections: Michael steals Corey's election speech, and when he uses his ideas and promises the girls a kiss for a vote, he becomes President, with Tiffany as his Vice-President. Corey is left looking on despairingly.

During the year, several new students arrive at the school - Mel and Kim Easton (the all-singing, all-dancing twin cheerleaders) and Eileen Reagan, whose life becomes a nightmare when Michael and his gang start to send her fake love letters. Will Eileen ever make new friends at William Ocean High School? Will Tiffany ever see the evil side of Michael?

Meanwhile the teachers are having problems of their own. Mr Cocker, after being in a relationship for two years with the apparently conservative English teacher, Miss Sheena Brannigan, confiscates an old swimsuit catalogue from a student, only to discover that his girlfriend is the centrefold. How will he cope? Will their relationship be able to survive this hurdle?

Throw in a Star Wars dream sequence, high-energy dance routines, the obligatory 80s party scene, copious amounts of blue eye-shadow, twenty cans of hairspray, as well as some of the most popular songs ever written, and the result is a musical that will not only delight and amuse an audience of any age, but will also inspire any young cast.

Will Corey finally get the girl of his dreams? Will the Prom night be a success? Will Feargal McFerrin III ever get a date?

To find out all these answers and many more… All you have to do is take a journey…Back to the 80s!


Drums ; Electric Bass Guitar ; Electric Guitar ; Keyboard 1(Fender Rhodes GM 4, Halo Pad GM 94, Rock Organ GM 18, Bass + Lead Synth GM 87, ElectricGrand Piano GM 2, Piano GM 1, Clavi GM 7, Pad 6 (Metalic) GM 93, Clav/Electric Rhodes GM 4,FX4 (Atmosphere) GM 99, Hammond Organ GM 17, Synth Strings 2 GM 51) ; Keyboard 2 (Vibraphone GM 11, Square Wave GM 80, Synth Brass GM 62, Rock Organ GM 18, FX4(Atmosphere) GM 99, String Ensemble 1 GM 48, New Age/Soft Pad GM 88, Piano GM 1, Bass +Lead GM 87, Hammond Organ GM 17, Synth Strings 2 GM 51, Piano GM 4, Synth Strings 2 GM 50) ; Reed 2 Alto Sax and/or Tenor Sax ( *Alto and Tenor Sax parts are interchangeable. In other words, there is only 1 reed player, that can play alto sax, tenor sax, or a combination of both.) ; Trombone ; Trumpet (in Bb)


Show Cast Size: Large (over 20) ( Men/ Women): Chorus Size: Medium : Show Dance Required:

  • COREY PALMER (SENIOR) - The narrator of the show. Corey Snr is pushing 30, living in the year 2000, and reminiscing about the 80s (his school days), and his love for Tiffany Houston.

  • COREY PALMER (JUNIOR) - He is 17 and in his Senior Year. A very likeable, very ordinary American teenager.

  • ALF BUELLER - One of Corey Junior’s two best friends. A likeable teenager, only just coming out of childhood.

  • KIRK KEATON - Corey’s other best friend. Corey, Alf and Kirk are very close, but they are rather naïve, particularly about women.

  • TIFFANY HOUSTON - One of the group of girls that “Just Wanna Have Fun”. A cute, bubbly teenage female from the 80s, innocent, naïve and doe-eyed about boys and love – aspiring to be Cyndi Lauper and Madonna rolled into one.

  • CYNDI GIBSON - One of Tiffany’s best friends. More street-smart than Tiffany, Cyndi knows that boyfriends are a passport to attention and presents.

  • MEL EASTON - Another one of the inner click of “The Cool Girls”. An all-singing, all-dancing party girl.

  • KIM EASTON - The twin sister of Mel – although for ease of casting, they will probably be fraternal, not identical.

  • MICHAEL FELDMAN - The coolest guy in the school. The girls all fall at his feet. A car-driving, Fonzie-styled football star. Has the romantic attention of all the girls, but particularly Tiffany Houston (who Corey just happens to be in love with.)

  • BILLY ARNOLD - One of Michael Feldman’s posse. Another popular, good-looking, athletic guy. The kind of person that every 17 year old wants to be (particularly if they are not popular, good-looking or athletic!!)

  • LIONEL ASTLEY - Lionel is fairly similar to Billy. Not quite as cool as the others, but because he is in the group, the girls put up with him anyway.

  • HUEY JACKSON - The final guy to round out the group of Michael Feldman’s friends. Not much else to be said - big hair, wears clothes that were cool at the time, but now just look like fluorescent mismatches of colour.

  • FEARGAL McFERRIN - The school nerd.

  • EILEEN REAGAN - The new arrival, charming, full of life and vitality – and a dreamer who lovingly longs for the day when she has a boyfriend.

  • LAURA WILDE - One of the girls that adopts Eileen into their group when she arrives at the school.

  • DEBBIE FOX - Laura’s best friend. Both girls have trouble distinguishing between reality (i.e. that they have had no boyfriends) and fantasy (that they are married to Neil Patrick Harris).

  • MS SHEENA BRANNIGAN - The only female teacher at the school to be seen. Around 30, and the Senior Students Co-ordinator. Outwardly reserved, very friendly and slightly conservative. What no-one knows is that at 18 she posed nude for Hustler. She has an on again, off again relationship with Mr Cocker.

  • MR STEVIE COCKER - The Deputy Principal and maths teacher at William Ocean High School. One of only two teachers who will appear in the show. Stevie sees a future together with Sheena, but has major problems when he discovers he is dating a former centrefold (even though she is now a respectable, conservative English teacher.)

  • MR MIYAGI - The sometimes talked about but never seen Japanese Teacher at the school.



Musical Numbers

  1. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - (Wham!) - Featured Male Singer, 3 Female Backing Singers
  2. Kids In America (Kim Wilde) - Featured Female Singer, Full Student Ensemble
  3. Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper) - Tiffany / Cyndi / Mel / Kim, Female Student Ensemble
  4. Footloose (Kenny Loggins) - Michael Billy / Huey / Lionel - BV Male Student Ensemble
  5. Mickey (Toni Basil) - Tiffany / Cyndi / Mel / Kim
  6. Michael's Election Rap (Neil Gooding) - Michael
  7. Video Killed The Radio Star - (The Buggles) - Feargal, Laura / Debbie - BV
  8. Glory Of Love (Peter Cetera) - Corey Jnr, Featured Male Singers
  9. Glory Of Love - (Scene Change) Instrumental
  10. Let's Hear It For the Boy (Deneice Williams) - Laura / Debbie / Eileen
  11. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers) - Corey Jnr / Michael
  12. You Give Love A Bad Name (Bon Jovi) - Corey Snr
  13. You Give Love A Bad Name (Reprise) (Bon Jovi) - Mr Cocker
  14. Man In The Mirror (Michael Jackson) - Mr Cocker / Miss Brannigan, Full Student Ensemble
  15. We Are the World (USA For Africa) - Full Student Ensemble
  16. Love Shack (The B-52's) - Corey Jnr, Featured Female Singer, Lionel, Full Student Ensemble
  17. Love Shack (Reprise) - Full Student Ensemble, Lionel
  18. Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler) - Corey Jnr, Miss Brannigan
  19. Nine To Five (Dolly Parton) - Kim / Mel / Cyndi / Tiffany
  20. Walking On Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves) - Eileen, Laura / Debbie - BV
  21. Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car) (Billy Ocean) - Michael / Tiffany, Ensemble
  22. Centerfold (J. Geils Band) - Mr Cocker, Full Student Ensemble
  23. Lost in Your Eyes (Debbie Gibson) - Eileen / Tiffany
  24. Never Gonna Give You Up (Rick Astley) - Billy, 3 Female Backup Singers
  25. Material Girl (Madonna) - Cyndi, Male Ensemble
  26. Eye Of The Tiger - Instrumental
  27. Eye Of The Tiger - (Reprise) - Instrumental
    Eye Of The Tiger - (Scene Change) Instrumental
  28. Don't Worry, Be Happy / Come on Eileen (Bobby McFerrin / Dexy's Midnight Runners) - Corey Jnr / Kirk / Alf
  29. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (Reprise) (Wham!) - Featured Male Singer
  30. (I've Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley / Jennifer Warnes) - Corey Jnr / Tiffany. Miss Brannigan / Mr Cocker, Feargal / Eileen
  31. Back To The 80's Megamix!
    (Encore / Bows) - Full EnsembleFull Ensemble