By Jason Mount
Big hair and keytars made a comeback at “Eighties Explosion,” Rider’s spring musical theater cabaret, directed by Franklin Trapp and musically directed by Nick Place.
The stage was decorated with multiple platforms featuring art from Keith Haring, the band was playing upstage center and set pieces to the right and left depicted classic ’80s technology such as Pac-Man, a Rubik’s Cube and a boombox. The show opened with the voice of radio host Casey Kasem, setting the scene for the rest of the performance.
Suddenly, the cast filled the stage to sing Eric Carmen’s “Make Me Lose Control.” The audience cheered, as the cast danced around the stage, eventually transitioning into “Mama’s Fallen Angel” by Poison, during which the spotlight shifted onto the band.
The cabaret took an emotional turn during a solo of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” performed by senior musical theater major Margaret Warrington. As the lights behind her changed colors, Warrington held everyone’s attention with her voice. When she belted out a note towards the end of the song, spectators applauded and vocalized their enthusiasm.
The “posse” of the cabaret, freshman musical theater majors Forrest Filiano, Terren Mueller and Daniel Starnes, and junior musical theater majors Bryce McAllister and Matt Sweeney, channeled their inner boy band members during their performance of “The Right Stuff” by New Kids On The Block.
Their number called upon elements of a typical boyband, including tight choreography and outfits depicting boy band archetypes.
Then came a mashup of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M. The song medley truly showcased the company’s talent with quickly sung lyrics and fast movement, making for a high energy performance.
The rest of the cabaret included other ’80s classics such as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, “Cold Hearted” by Paula Abdul, and “Luka” by Suzanne Vega.
The bigger numbers came at the end of the cabaret. The entire cast danced on stage for “Love Shack” by The B-52’s and “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, sparking an audience sing along during the chorus and rythmn clapping throughout.
The production finished up with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Audience members were moved by recognition and nostalgia as the first few notes rang through the theater. The performers made sure to get their message across by tweaking one line from the song: “The ’80s never end.” Performers ran out into the aisles of the house to sing and dance with audience members, all while taking their bows and finishing the show.
Everyone in the audience could not resist dancing at one point or another, showing how talented and moving the students were in the cabaret. Their performances proved to many people that songs from the 1980s are as timeless as ever.
Originally printed in the2/15/17 edition.