Class Acting: Original musical comedy features gathering of grads

Tom Giffey

Ah, high school. Love it or loathe it, four years of algebra and awkwardness tend to have a lasting impact. Returning for a class reunion can awaken memories, stir jealousies, reignite romances, and maybe even unlock an old mystery or two. That’s the setup for Class Reunion, a new musical comedy written by Chippewa Falls’ own Jerry Way and performed by the Wayward Players. It’s Way’s eighth musical comedy performed in as many years at the Heyde Center in Chippewa Falls. Way drew on his own high school years for dramatic (and comedic) inspiration, as well as his 40-year music teaching career (which included time at McDonell, Augusta, and Chippewa Falls Senior high schools), and his many years of playing in a dance band at class reunions, homecomings, and proms. “My years of teaching high school made it clear to me there are certain ‘universals’ to the high school experience that stay the same decade after decade,” Way explained. In Class Reunion, a group of alumni – including the class clown, the jock, the brain, the drama queen, etc. – gather for their first-ever reunion at Crandall High School, which is about to be demolished. “The aspect of meeting in an old gym, which is about to be torn down, struck me as a bit spooky,” Way said. “The mystery could be of ‘this world’ or ‘some other.’ Many clues are revealed and the audience is kept guessing until the resolution at the very end of the show.” Way also wrote 10 original songs for the show, which range in style from pep band to rock to what he describes as a “spooky tango.” The musical accompaniment is by Judy Brist on piano and Way on string bass. The show is directed by Way; his wife, Carol (who also created the sets and other visual elements); and Amanda Tanzer Schafer. In addition to the music and laughs, the evening performances feature a buffet dinner from Karl’s BBQ Express that includes hand-carved roast pork loin or buttery baked fish. What would a class reunion be without a good meal?

Class Reunion: A Musical Mystery Comedy by Jerry Way • Thursday-Saturday, March 22-24, 6:30pm (dinner), 7:30pm (show) • Sunday, March 25, 2pm (show only) • The Heyde Center for the Arts, 3 S. High St., Chippewa Falls • Show only: $15 adults, $14 seniors, $6 youth • Dinner and show: adults $34, seniors $33, youth $27 • (715) 726-9000 •