The cast of "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad" line up for a final bow to the audience
The Drama Club's Fall production transports audience members to Mayhem High, where the neon lights conceal a deep, dark secret
It's always exciting to experience a blast from the past, especially if there's a hidden, sinister scheme going on that keeps us on the edge of our seats. MCI's Drama Club delivered on all accounts with their Fall Production "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad," a thrilling and inquisitive audience-participation murder mystery.
For one night only, the amenities of Parks Gym were transformed into the halls of Mayhem High, where students gathered for their Senior Prom with emotions running high. Who will collect the coveted crowns of Prom King and Queen? How far will any one student go to capture this elusive title?
Those in attendance were treated to a colorful cast of over 30 performers, each with their own role not only in the school, but in the ensuing murder plot as well. There was Peter Prez, the class president looking to extend his reign beyond the student council. There was also Bobby Backer, who's made plenty of enemies as captain of the Raven's baseball team and Mayhem High's token jock. And who could forget Debbie Taunte, the spoiled rich girl who knows how to use money and influence to get what she wants. With these characters and more filling the prom floor, the students of Mayhem High socialize with each other and the audience until an innocent life is claimed and chaos ensues.
Sarah Social (Addie Verrill '24) and her friends bust a move on the dance floor
For Director Debra Susi, the selection of "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad" as the Drama Club's Fall production was a calculated choice. "The Fall show always brings a mix of experienced and inexperienced actors," explained Susi. "(The students) read a number of scripts and decided the 80's time period would be great fun to design for and act in... this particular improvised/audience-interactive show allowed a number of students involved with sports and other activities a chance to be involved with both."
As Susi described, not only was this show comprised of many new actors and students new to theatre, but they also had to navigate the difficult task of improvising almost the entire show. Characters were not given lines, and instead only had specific tasks they needed to complete in order to progress the story. As an audience member, you would experience dozens of conversations going on at the same time, and it's your job to figure out which ones are important and who the killer could be. Cast members frequently strike up conversations and interact with the audience, which provides a whole new layer of fun and excitement.
"Improvised acting is always a challenge. When you add audience interactions to the mix, you really never know what's going to happen," said Susi. "As a teaching director, my job is to help actors discover ways to accomplish their "objectives" and rehearse what to do if "obstacles" get in their way. Of course, in real life the unexpected happens all the time. That's what makes the story interesting and eventful, adding another colorful layer to collaborative storytelling."
Principal Simpson (John Buys) clears the scene after a grisly murder has occurred
Audience members were given the chance to vote on not only the Prom King and Queen, but who they thought committed the heinous murder towards the beginning of the show. It's important not to spoil the fun for those who didn't get a chance to make it, but rest assured the perpetrator was caught and Mayhem High's prom was saved. After a successful Fall production and a night of retro festivities and fearful fun, Susi is looking forward to what's ahead for the Drama program this school year.
"Fall Drama Club actors are an enthusiastic blend of new and experienced actors. I love the community they build, the support they give each other and the new friendships that are made over the rehearsal and production time frame. I believe we are all looking forward to Drama Team auditions and working on our next collaborative story!"
To view an album of selected photos from the Drama Club's Fall production, click here.