Monday, June 18, 2012

Theater Killed the Video Star

Let's hear it for the boy.

You know, the one in the white lace glove. And there were more than one.

No big surprise since tonight's theme for the Gostlight Afterparty at Richmond Triangle Players was "Papa Don't Preach (So What if I Got the GLAP)!"

That's right, it was an '80s extravaganza unfolding right before our eyes, with Stacie Reardon Hall as tonight's special guest.

We arrived to a milling crowd, got ourselves a bottle of French rose and took seats in the second row to revisit our youth.

Unlike the usual Ghostlight Afterparty where all the theater people sing show tunes, tonight's was devoted to the decade that gave us so much great music and soooo much schlock.

80s looks were everywhere: gym shorts, athletic socks, headbands. basically, everything we wanted to forget from the first time around.

Hostess Maggie had on a short black Madonna-looking bustier dress which we learned she'd borrowed from co-host Matt, who was sporting a pink Barbie t-shirt.

Am I painting a clear enough picture here?

It was the kind of evening where someone on stage suggested singing the theme song to "The Gummi Bears" and suddenly a dozen people in the audience were singing along to every word.

Judge me all you want, but I didn't even know there was a Gummi Bears cartoon.

Although the music was supposed to be from the '80s, sometimes it wasn't, like David doing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (accompanying himself on piano), definitely from 1971.

B.C. was called to the stage and said he'd wanted to do a Debbie Gibson song, but only if he had the right headgear and a white grand piano.

Apparently the double pom-pom growing out of his headband qualified and Matt played a white toy piano while accompanist Sandy played the real thing and we heard "Lost In Your Eyes."

Good as it was, it probably brought on mall flashbacks for some people, but I wasn't one of them.

Kelsey did Traci Chapman's "Fast Car," a song that had been inescapable back in the 80s.

Matt and Susan stood facing each other across the audience to begin singing "Endless Love" before holding hands and singing together until they reached the stage.

Mid-song they even did a brief slow dance.

The corny quotient was through the roof and downright hysterical.

There were a few show tunes, like Ally and David's "Tonight You Belong to Me" from the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk."

It was a perfectly lovely song (if 1979) made more special by David wearing a t-shirt with her picture promoting Ally for Student Council vice president.

"My Mom made it," Ally explained. "I did not win."

Such was the heartbreak of the '80s. I know; I was there.

Megan and her Dad did Gershwin's "Summertime," noting, "It's not an '80s song but I'm sure it was sung in the '80s."

Midway through, someone in the crowd yelled, "Play it, Pops" to her dad who accompanied her on guitar.

"Did she say Pops?" Dad inquired mid-strum.

Andrew played "Steppin' Out Tonight" because, "This is the song I play to remind people that they know who Joe Jackson is."

Of course, anyone who lived through the 80s doesn't need a reminder.

Evan was one of the guest hosts tonight and his ensemble was so spot-on I laughed out loud when I saw him first. I'd danced with guys that looked just like that in the 80s.

Introducing the next act he dryly said, "These two want to perform something they have been practicing tirelessly. For fifteen minutes."

It was B.C. and Thomas taking Evan up on his earlier Facebook challenge.

Evan had posted that he'd buy two drinks for anyone who did "Open Arms" by Journey.

The two had a scripted response to Evan's challenge, basically summed up in their succinct responses.



They then sang possibly the most treacly song Journey ever foisted on the public and that's saying a lot. At least they dd it well.

B.C. and Thomas, that is, not Journey.

Late in the evening, everyone from "Spring Awakening" arrived after their show and were promptly called to the stage.

The young cast treated us to "Totally F**ked," no doubt ensuring that anyone on the fence about seeing the play will now make a beeline for it.

I was already planning to.

After the pizza intermission, always a highlight after three hours of drinking and laughing, host Matt returned to the stage in gym shorts and thigh-high boots.

The pink barbie t-shirt was still there but a black and red cravat had been added for flair.

Just so you know, no one looking like that asked me to dance in the '80s.

Carly did "Get Here," a song huge in the 80s but not often heard since (do you remember Oleta Adams? I didn't think so).

One of my favorite Shakespearean actors, Foster, took the stage to tell us, "Those who know me know nothing intimidates me. This scares the shit out of me."

He proceeded to sing a lovely version of "I Melt With You" to his seated wife, even cajoling the crowd to sing along for the "Mm, mmm, mmm" part.

It was definitely a high point. Afterwards, Matt said, "That was epic," which only barely covered it.

For certain 80s veterans, Modern English trumps Journey and Debbie Gibson then and now.

Stacie and Matt sang "Total Eclipse of the Heart" while Kerry and K.B. did interpretive dance behind them.

Robin's magnificent voice gave us "Making Love Alone," I song I didn't know (Sondheim) but could appreciate, if not want to revisit.

Evan took over the piano (brilliantly, I might add) so he and D.J. could do "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," a terrific song and excellent version, but definitely from 1974.

'70s, '80s, what's the difference?

Okay, everything, but that wasn't the point.

Andrew returned with Stacie and said, "Somebody mentioned on Facebook a need for Bananarama" before doing a medley of Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City" and "Cruel, Cruel Summer."

There was an '80s costume contest late in the evening with several worthy contenders, but as far as awards go, I'd vote for a couple of standout performances.

Matt did "Faith" with high drama, hand gestures and impeccable timing.

Between his head swivels and arched eyebrows, even George Micheal would have been licking his boots.

My other standout was Lucy with a guitar doing "I Would Die for You," probably my all-time favorite song by the Purple One.

She introduced it as, "This song is from 1984 by the artist formerly known as Prince. If you know it, you know it's all electronic and not a guitar, so you may find this funny."

So not funny. Her slow and soft-voiced version was as beautiful as the original was intense and driving.

The big finale was Queen, with far more people on stage than in the audience, but by 1 a.m., who really cares?

We'd been to the '80s and back, with enough stops in the '70s to ensure that we fully appreciated the Reagan years.

And no banana clips had been harmed in the making of the '80s Ghostlight Afterparty.

Rock on, GLAP.