Meet some of Highway 80’s players in the star vehicle: Spencer Balzer

EMCS, Journey, to rock your world on ‘Highway 80’

This year's musical theatre will take you back to the colourful and exciting era of the 1980s.

Take those broken wings and wake up before you go-go for this year’s musical theatre at Edward Milne Community School as it takes on one of the most colourful, wackiest musical eras of all time: the 1980s.

Compiled between more than 100 young minds from EMCS and Journey Middle School, the production, called Highway 80, will tell a story of a group of youth in the ‘80s who embark on a journey to win a music competition and hit it big.

Along the way, they’ll encounter rivaling musical groups, evil bad guys and all kinds of unforeseen, albeit hilarious, obstacles.

At the helm of this musical time machine is EMCS’ drama, performing arts teacher, Lisa McLellan, who decided to go with a big theme for this year’s performance.

“They love the ‘80s music, so we had to figure out what was really big in the ‘80s, things they had to learn about like what a mixed tape was, and the lingo of that era,” she said, adding that EMCS students have written their own musical theatre productions for many years.

More than 30 students from Journey will join the show, and more than 70 from EMCS, along with art teams, technical teams, writers, and other supporting crew to stitch the show together. Some former graduates have come to lend their time as volunteers as well.

Between the ‘80s-themed costumes, one-liners and bright neon colours, McLellan said the musical aspect plays a major driver to the plot.

“The music is very important, so they had a battle of the bands idea where they follow the journey that they’re trying to make it big,” she said, adding that this is also a story of the relationships that are formed in their journey.

The characters start at the last night of a drive-in movie theatre (that gets turned into a Wal Mart) where they hear about a music contest on the radio.

Highway 80 was named after the highway the protagonists travel to get to New Sound City, where the contest takes place, and the winner gets a recording contract with a big studio… not before the band breaks down in a western bar and all their troubles keep getting progressively worse.

Not that these are a bunch of quitters; after all, the tagline is, “they’re living on a prayer, but in order to make it, they gotta give us their best shot.”

One of the main antagonists will be played by EMCS’s familiar Makayla Scharf, who will be playing an evil band manager, or, as she puts it, “a self-centered psychopath with a bit of a god complex.”

“My role in the play is to make everyone else’s life hell,” Scharf laughed, whose character uses her minions and manipulation to lead the other bands into trouble.

Regardless of what happens though, one thing’s for sure: don’t stop believein’ that this will be one night to remember.

Highway 80 will run from June 8 to 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Edward Milne Community School Theatre.