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Back to the 80’s: The Totally Awesome Musical
by Vista Murrieta High School

The Show

Remember when actors became American Presidents? When flipped up collars on polo shirts, members only jackets and blue eye shadow were cool? When Atari was cutting edge technology?  BACK TO THE 80's is a totally awesome musical that tells the story of the senior class of William Ocean High School that graduated in the 1980's, as remembered and seen through the eyes of now 30-something Corey Palmer. With the help of some of the most popular 80's songs ever written, we follow Corey through the year as he navigates the intricacies of high school life and love, culminating with an absolutely radical prom night.  BACK TO THE 80's is a wondrous avalanche of nostalgia and fun for all.

The Production

Starring as Corey Jr., Kasey Albayati perfectly captured all of the angst-ridden teen troubles of a semi-popular guy in love with the most desirable girl in school.  His vocals were excellent, especially on “I’m Gonna Be” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.  His very energetic best friends, Alf (Danica Ramirez) and Kirk (Chasen Sipowicz), found their team spirit and made great buddies for Corey.  Brooke West, as the ever-popular, pretty cheerleader Tiffany, did a lovely job of capturing the character’s sweetness and vulnerability.  She had a nice voice with a particularly strong performance on the lead vocal in “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.  Colin Acda did a great job of portraying the school’s most popular guy, Michael.  His performances on “Footloose” and “Get Out of My Dreams” were both outstanding.  He was backed up by his posse of other jocks – Billy (Mitch Palmer), Lionel (Justin Dittamo) and Huey (Jeffrey Lawless).  All three of them did a wonderful job of not only backing up their leader, but taking their individual shining moments and making the most of them.   Sarah Casillas nailed the part of the conniving and greedy Cyndi.  Her strong voice had a chance to really show itself in “Material Girl”. 

Evan James O’Keefe did an excellent job of finding his inner nerd and letting him out in the role of Feargal McFerrin III.  His stylized, character-driven vocal on “Video Killed The Radio Star” nearly brought the house down.  As the new girl, Eileen, Emily Goedken deftly portrayed the shy and reserved girl who is struggling to find her way in a new environment.  Her new friends, Debbie (Rebecca Peeler) and Laura (Arelybel Iniguez), embraced her quickly and soon all three of them were doing a fabulous vocal rendition of “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”.  Corey Sr, superbly portrayed by Mr. Cory Finch, served as the narrator and anchor for the story, as well as reminding all of us of the heartache of being turned down in “You Give Love A Bad Name”.  Mr. Mick Wager did a fantastic job of playing the love-struck, moral Mr. Cocker.  His vocals on “Man in the Mirror” and “Centerfold” were excellent and well delivered.  Mrs. Lisa Wager did marvelous work as the teacher with a past, Miss Brannigan.  Her beautiful voice was especially pleasant to experience during “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Man In The Mirror”.  Kudos to the rest of the cast for showing their exuberance and support throughout the show, with a particularly hilarious Star Wars dream sequence being one of the highlights. 

As the director, Cory Finch did a wonderful job bringing this little-known show to the audience and helping each of the actors find their inner 80’s high school self.  Brian Smith did great work bringing the songs to life and putting together the rockin’ live band.  Mr. Finch’s set design was positively outstanding – from the giant, light-up Rubik’s Cube to the versatility of all of the pieces.  The stage management team and crew deserve a shout out for maintaining the flow of the show, as well as, the seamless scene changes.  Much praise is due to the cast, crew, staff and supporters of the Vista Murrieta High School drama department for bringing us BACK TO THE 80’s at William Ocean High. 

Performed February 12 - 22, 2014

Dana Carr
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Corey Jr: Kasey Albayati
Alf: Dannica Ramirez
Kirk: Chasen Sipowicz
Michael: Colin Acda
Billy: Mitch Palmer
Lionel: Justin Dittamo
Huey: Jeffrey Lawless
Tiffany: Anjelica Torres / Brooke West
Cyndi: Ashlyn O'Brien / Sarah Casillas
Mel: Annie Kopack
Kim: Brittany Hughes
Feargal McFerrin III: Evan James O'Keefe
Debbie: Rebecca Peeler
Laura: Arelybel Iniguez
Eileen: Raquel Deporto/Katie Goedken

Student Enemble:
Emily Espinosa
Kylee Sullivan
Deanna Urias
Kaylin Gardner
Zach Tiger
Tyler Carillo
Maggie Wakelin
Omar Gonzalez
Kayla Bailey
Kary Payumo
Kyiana Williams
Sirena Torres

Adult Roles:
Mr. Cocker: Mr. Mick Wager
Miss Brannigan: Mrs. Lisa Wager
Corey Sr: Mr. Cory Finch

Producer/Director: Cory Finch*
Musical Director: Brian Smith*
Choreography: Drew Dalton Russ*
Asst. Directors: Alexys Chapman & Devin Maziarz
Stage Managers: Destiny Vargas, Gaby Coronado & Sophie Amirrezvani
Costume Heads: Aubrina Zopfi & Avia McDonald
Lighting Design: Cory Finch* & Lorenzo Loche
Light Board Op: Lorenzo Loche
Spot Ops: Andi Moring & Josh
Sound Board Op: Dakota Reed
Props Mistress: Renee McAdow
Construction Crew: Christian Bonilla, Julian Coronado
Set Design: Cory Finch*
Scenic Artist: Kailee Shedeed
House Manager: Imelda Gbhehi

* indicates an adult


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