Members of Generation Y performed songs from the era of Generation X for Generation Z yesterday when the cast of Free Rain Theatre's production of Back to the 80s took to the stage of Rosary Primary School.
The actors, most in their late teens and early 20s, sang and danced to Kids in America and Footloose for the young audience, providing a taste of the show, which opens at ANU Arts Centre on September 7.
The latter song, originally performed by Kenny Loggins in the 1984 movie of the same name, received a particularly enthusiastic response from the primary schoolers – testament, perhaps, to the enduring catchiness of the era's tunes. Back to the 80s, by Neil Gooding, is an affectionate homage to the films, fashions and fads of the decade.
And the cast members, though obviously too young to remember the 80s, also enjoyed the music. Miles Thompson, 19, plays Corey Palmer, "a very average guy" in his last year at William Ocean High School who likes Star Wars and Atari video games.
Thompson said, "My parents told me it wasn't a particularly good decade and that the music was not that good."
He found himself begging to differ, however, when he began rehearsing such songs as The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Toni Basil's Mickey.
"I was going to myself, 'Gee, these are all fantastic."'
Of his character, Thompson said, "He's motivated in the show to start a relationship with the girl next door but she's popular and cool and has never seen him as anything more than a brother."
The other problem is that Tiffany Houston, played by Josie Dunham, is more attracted to the bullying jock Michael Feldman, played by Lachlan Whan.
"He's very fun to play," said Whan, 19, who admitted to being "very, very nervous" as this would be the first show in which he had to sing solo. But like other cast members he did plenty of research, immersing himself in the culture of the 1980s and developing genuine affection for it – particularly the big white Nikes his character wears.
Jonathan Ashcroft, 18, plays another' 80s teen movie stereotype, the nerdy Feargal McFerrin III. Ashcroft admitted to being a little nerdy himself, but into theatre as much as computers ("This is the ninth show I've done in the past two years.")
He said many in the cast had been driven to conquer one of the fads of the 1980s, the Rubik's cube.
And what would an '80s teen story be without a queen bee? Cyndi Gibson (Nicola Hall) is the girl who terrifies the girls and intimidates the boys. Hall, 17, previously played the sweet, innocent Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and was enjoying the challenge of a very different character, one of whose big numbers is Madonna's Material Girl.
But unlike other cast members, she was not such a fan of her parents' era – more her grandparents'.
"I'm more of a '40s girl."
Back to the 80s is on at the ANU Arts Centre on September 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 and 22 at 8pm, September 16 at 5pm and September 8, 15 and 22 at 2pm.
Tickets $42 full, $35 concession, $27 matinee. Bookings: 62752700. Dinner and show packages (three-course dinner and show) available from Teatro Vivaldi on 6257 2718.