English Valleys Puts on Nostalgic Play

Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

NORTH ENGLISH – On March 22 and 23, English Valleys Students put on performances of “Back to the Eighties,” a parody of the classic 1985 science fiction comedy film “Back the the Future.” The play was directed by Carrie Burdick and student director Margaret Fisher. It starred Emily Allison as Mary Fitzfry, a modern teenager who travels back to the 1980s and befriends a younger version of her mother, played by Keegan Burdick. Rounding out the main cast were Imigyn Stratton as eccentric scientist Emma Gelb and Emma Pierce and Keegan Walker as antagonistic yuppies Bitsy and Jeff. The play also featured an ensemble comprised of Rebecca Berry, Ty Ayers, Ada Mews, Myles Grove, Halie Conrad, Hannah Grimm, Stacia Linder, Cyrus Morrison, Lyla Smothers, Allyson Lowe, Tess Crane, Nicole Murphy, Dylan Kleine, Daige Sabin, Kaylee Frazier, Taylie Brecht, Adam Forbes, Betsy Wells, Peityn Claypool, Clara Karr, Eliana Patterson, Kaylynne Hoylman, Zola Voss, Miley Clubb and Jack Osborn as a variety of 80s pop culture characters. Declan Patterson, Phoenix Sorden, Forrest Schott, Korbyn Brecht and Victoria Threlkeld were the backstage crew. Corey Breese, Channing Stratton, Brody Williams, Brodie Bearbower and Chance McGaffee handled construction and support.

“They did a wonderful job,” said Carrie Burdick after the Friday performance. “They’re a superb cast. 41 students in the cast and crew came together and did a wonderful job”

Burdick has been doing drama at English Valleys for 13 years. She chose this play because it is a lighthearted ensemble piece. “The eighties are kind of fun and the pop culture and I figured the audience would enjoy it,” said Burdick. “I had a lot of student interest in joining this year, especially Freshmen. It’s an ensemble piece, so it allows people to do multiple parts and get to know some of my younger cast members...I like that everybody gets to be involved. I like that it’s fun and lighthearted. Last year, we did kind of a serious piece with ‘Radium Girls.’ It’s fun and lighthearted and a different kind of feel.”

The play’s lead, Emily Allison, enjoyed the play’s contrast between the modern day and the 1980s. “I liked that it’s a modern character, so that I can be myself and portray how life is as a teenager...There’s a lot of like eighties references and I just think they’re all so funny. And there’s so many parts that are just like one-line funny parts. I think it will come across really well with the age differences of the audiences we have,” said Allison.

Allison has been doing drama at English Valleys since she was a Freshman, including four plays and two musicals. “I’ve always loved musicals and theater and listening to music and everything, so I just thought that joining the drama club would be a good way to help expand my knowledge on all of that,” said Allison. “And I just think acting is just so much fun and putting on a performance for other people to enjoy is enjoyable. “

Keegan Burdick, who played Allison’s mother, has also been in six English Valleys productions since she was a Freshman. “I’ve been told since I was little that I was a good actor and I like to be on stage in front of people and pretend to be somebody else...It’s fun. More people should try it,” said Burdick.

Burdick enjoyed being in an adaptation of her favorite movie series and the fact that she could play such a nice character. “I kind of like that (Heather) doesn’t catch on quickly to things people say. She’s a nice person, and honestly, I think people should strive to be like Heather more,” said Burdick.

Allison and Burdick both noted the complexity of the play and the challenges that brought. “(There are a lot of challenges with) casting, because there’s so many parts,” said Burdick. “And while we have a bigger cast than usual, it’s not very big by any means. There’s not very many men. There are men, of course, but there’s not a lot of them, so these male parts, we’ve had to do some things like gender bend.”

“With how many people and different parts there are, there’s a lot of quick changes and a lot of different props that we need,” said Allison. “And it’s really hard to practice with when you don’t have all those props or you don’t have all the people that you need for one specific part. So that has been one of the biggest struggles that we’ve had, is making sure everyone can come in on time, even though maybe the person they follow in isn’t here.”

Emma Pierce, who played the show’s main antagonist, enjoyed playing  a villian. “I feel like I can really do a lot of stuff with her,” said Pierce. “She’s a really fun character to play and I can just get into emotions and stuff with her a lot.

Pierce has done three plays at English Valleys. “Since it’s such a small school, we have a cast that I know everybody and it’s just a lot of familiar and friendly things going on on set every day and it’s a lot of fun...Just getting on the same page as everybody because we’re at different spots of how ready we are and just getting that to even out is the biggest struggle...A lot of my friends do (plays) and that’s how I got into them, through friends, and then it’s just like a really fun experience to be different things and do so much with it. There’s so many things you can do with that,” said Pierce.




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