Actor Tom Stuart wrote and created the high school-set show, which borrows pop tunes from the era. The musical, part of Lyric's Second Stage initiative, LT2, is a musical comedy originally based on Stuart's own high school experience — "but [it] soon took on a life of its own," according to the announcement.
"I really wanted to highlight the music of the 1980s, along with '80s pop culture…the hair, the clothes, the TV shows, the climate of the times," Stuart said in production notes. "This show offers a chance to relive that time, and also to meet some people you may recognize from your own high school days."
Expect such '80s tunes "Heaven is a Place on Earth," "Break My Stride" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." The songs are used to further plot and enhance character; the show is not a revue.
I Want My 80's Musical! "tells of seven high school seniors: the cheerleader, the jock, the student activist, the preppie, the misfit, the exchange student, and the artist," according to Lyric. Although each one experiences his or her share of teenage conflicts, "this is not a show about teen angst," Stuart said. "This is a memory of a specific time and place. The difficulties these characters face are viewed through the lens of nostalgia, and that's where the piece derives its heart."
Stuart has been collaborating on the project with longtime friend and Lyric Theatre artistic director Nick Demos. In 2002, they produced a one-act version of the show, then called Kids in America, at the Triad Theatre in New York City.
Lyric's newest series, "Lyric Theatre Second Stage," which offers slightly edgier work than seen in summer productions by Lyric, "provides the perfect avenue for I Want My 80's Musical! to make its world debut."
Demos directs an ensemble cast that includes Ryan Link (who performed on Broadway as Roger in Rent), Amy Eschman, and several Oklahoma favorites including Amber Leseney, Matt Brown, Jason Carroll, Oklahoma City University graduate Bentley A. Monk and University of Oklahoma senior Keleen Snowgren.
Ryan Link and Tom Stuart met as castmates in a recent production of Hair at Houston's Theatre Under The Stars, in which Stuart played the role of Claude. Stuart and director-choreographer Demos, asked Link in December 2004 to join the cast of the 80's show.
About his role as Mike, the preppie, Link said, "I'm studying performances by Andrew McCarthy in 'Pretty in Pink' and 'St. Elmo's Fire,' and a little Ryan Philippe from 'Cruel Intentions' too… that's the basis for the character, a wealthy kid who has no idea what he wants to do in life. My character wants to 'go all the way' with Diane, the high school overachiever, and is oblivious to the crush that his best friend Ken has on him."
Lyric Theatre presents its mainstage season of shows during the summer at the 2,500-seat Thelma Gaylord Performing Arts Auditorium in Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall. Lyric presents four shows each summer, each for six performances.
Beyond LT2, another Lyric winter series is "Show Notes," cabaret-style concerts featuring the work of a composer or team of composers/songwriters. Lyric offers two different Show Notes concerts each year, each for three performances.
In 2004, the newest series, "Lyric Theatre Second Stage" began with Pageant, the Musical Comedy Beauty Contest.
Performances of I Want My 80's Musical! (and other LT2 shows) are performed in the 280-seat Freede Little Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall.
The show is rated "mature." Performances play Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 5 PM and 8:30 PM. For ticket information, call (405) 524-9312 or visit www.lyrictheatreokc.com.