Downtown Art

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July 11, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Wanaget High?

Here's my dilemma. I can't decide what to wear to the prom. "The Awesome '80s Prom" will be my first prom, so I want to choose wisely. Especially since the whole point is to relive a prom and to dress as a cool '80s icon.

That's a lot of pressure. If I make a wrong step, everyone will know that I never attended the prom and that I was once referred to as "the biggest geek in the school." I know that sounds like a stretch now, but whatever I wear will probably mean that I'm either in or out and it'll be high school all over again (which was embarrassing enough the first time).

I mean, I don't know if it'd be cool to appear as someone truly ironic (for me), being a character from, say, "Beverly Hills 90210" or the bombshell Kelly from "Saved by the Bell."

The problem is that I run the risk of not being properly identified. Like, what if the cast makes fun of me? Maybe I should just play it safe and pose as someone I can identify with, like Jo from "The Facts of Life."

Emulating the hands-on interactivity between the wedding party of Hey City's "Tony 'N' Tina's Wedding" and its guests, this show makes everyone in the audience students at Wanaget High.

As such, you'll attend the 1989 senior prom where classic stereotypes abound. This show makes no attempt to defy labels, as everyone is encouraged to come dressed as a favored '80s celebrity. You'll be asked to break dance, sign yearbooks and may even get detention.

Since the school doesn't have a major budget, the prom space will be decorated with streamers, stars, balloons and homemade signs.

Spoofing Molly Ringwald movies such as "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," you'll go to lunch with the Asian exchange student, flirt with either the head cheerleader or captain of the football team. You'll wonder if it's OK to sit next to and even talk with the class geek, who kind of makes you uncomfortable. All compete for the title of prom king and queen, which you'll help select.

To get yourself into the proper mentality, reminisce over VCRs, Jessica McClintock dresses, multiple piercings, leg warmers, Mohawks, faded blue jeans, parachute pants, outrageous colors, Madonna, Arsenio Hall and MC Hammer.

These are some of the things that director/writer Ken Davenport was inspired by as he recalled prom antics. He focused on the prom because he said that it's a milestone event that most people are passionate about.

"The '80s were such a fun time. I wanted a chance to live it all over again - the over-the-top zealousness, really bright colors and crazy hair. It's fun to look back and see how crazy we were and relive it all over again," Davenport said.

He recalled his prom, where he spent the entire evening ogling his ex-girlfriend, who he had planned to get back together with the next day (he did).

Those kinds of trivial yet formerly significant trials characterize the show; you'll witness young couples getting together, breaking up, getting back together and breaking up again. We can all relate to such ridiculous yet classic adolescent rites of passage.

To prepare for their roles, the actors watched old movies and talked a lot about high school memories. They'll adapt some of their own experiences into the program.

• Th-Sa thru Aug. 26; Th-F 8 p.m., Sa 7 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. Hennepin Stages, 824 Hennepin Ave. S. $39.50. 651-989-5151, www.hennepintheatredistrict.org.