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Schoolhouse Theater to rock Sanibel with ’80s musical revue

By Staff | May 28, 2010

The cast of the upcoming “80’s to the Max” is in rehearsal for opening night which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Pictured are performers Gina Gloria and Lexie Dorsett.

Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Michael Jackson, Van Halen.

Sky high hair, parachute pants, skin-tight designer jeans, high-top sneakers and neon hues.

Welcome back to the 1980s.

At two decades away from the 21st century, the 1980s are often recalled as a time of fun and outrageous hair and clothing styles.

The culture tended to be a bit on the whimsical and rebellious — think leather and lace. But the time period — marked by President Ronald Reagan’s conservative leadership and events such as the UK’s wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana created a sort of 1950s nostalgic time for many American families.

Flash ahead to May 2010… Issues such as a rough national and global economy, environmental concerns about a major oil spill flowing in the Gulf of

Mexico, a national health care crisis, dysfunctional and fractured families — all can make one dream of seemingly more carefree, fun times like the 1980s.

Well, dream no more.

n honor of the 1980s and in the spirit of summer fun, The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater will be featuring two retro shows. Artistic director Victor Legarreta and musical director Justin P. Cowan will direct the original musical revues highlighting the 1970s and 1980s. The musicals, “’80s to the Max” and “The ’70s Show,” will each showcase songs from its respective time period.

The summer season kicks off with “’80s to the Max” on Saturday, May 29, at 7 p.m. There will be a special opening night reception before the show. It is recommended to book early for the reception. “’80s to the Max” will run Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until June 24 and will then be on stage on Tuesdays and Thursdays only until Aug. 12.

“We wanted something that would appeal to summer crowds,” Legarreta said. “What better than the 80s? It’s universal you can enjoy it at any age.”

Legarreta, who is in his 30s, delights in recalling his experience growing up in the 1980s. Breakdancing, parachute pants and, of course, the music brings a smile to the director’s face.

“That was the meat of my existence,” he said. “I listened to everything.”

Legarreta said he’s sure the high-energy upbeat styles of the show will a make for a crowd-pleaser.

“There’s something for everyone,” he added.

He said the “bubble gum” type music — reminiscent of a more carefree time — would appeal to people of all generations.

“It does stretch across a vast medium,” he said.

Michigan native Geoffrey Nelson is looking forward to helping bring back the 1980s to audiences. Nelson, 30, will be playing Boy George and singing some joyous tunes.

“It’s definitely a trip,” Nelson said.

The Midwestern actor chuckles at the thought of wearing Boy George’s colorful garb and makeup. But Boy George won’t be the only funky blast from the past to emerge on the Schoolhouse stage. Madonna, a valley girl, and the queen of girls having fun — Cyndi Lauper — will all also be on hand. Nelson said he is looking forward to playing an iconic ’80s character.

And this appears to be one of those situations where the actors and actresses will get to have as much fun as the audience does.

“It’s all going to be really high energy,” Nelson said. “There’s probably not a single song you won’t recognize.”

The hour-and-a-half-long show will be all song and dance. “It’s just a really fun, little party,” Nelson said.

And for those who want to enjoy some more retro music, the 1970s will hit the stage this summer, too.

The second show “The 70s Show,” will debut June 26 and will run on Wednesday and Saturday nights through Aug. 14. This show will also have a special opening night reception.

Both shows will feature five actors — some familiar faces such as Nelson to The Schoolhouse and some who will be making their Sanibel debut. The cast for both summer shows connsists of Lexie Dorsett, Gina Gloria, Kevin T. Murphy, Geoffrey Nelson and Samantha Rotella.

Special summer prices are in effect as well as an earlier curtain time of 7 p.m. The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater is located at 2200 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel. Call the box office for tickets at 472-6862. Visit The Schoolhouse website for more information at  www.TheSchoolhouseTheater.com. On twitter? Follow The Schoolhouse’s tweets @SchoolhouseSNBL! Ticket prices are  $25 for adults and $10 for children.