Dealing with peer pressure in Hi-Tops

NERDS IN LOVE: Norman (Armand Oosthuizen) and Grace (Erin Birch) have a serious talk in the musical, Hi-Tops, presented by El Shaddai Christian Academy at Word of Truth Ministries last Friday


FEAR of others’ opinions of oneself, self-consciousness and peer pressure play a large part in the life of teenagers, and were all addressed in the 80s musical, Hi-Tops, which El Shaddai Christian Academy presented at Word of Truth Ministries last week.

The action takes place at a school where the band, Hi-Tops, is holding auditions. All the teenagers are wearing hi-top sneakers laced all the way up to the ankles, an ’80s fad, like shiny jogging-shorts, big hair and head bands.

In the middle of the stage, a painted backdrop and some colourful lockers represent the school corridor. Stage right, musical instruments represent an audition room. Stage left, scaffolding covered with white gauze represents heaven. Slides on an overhead screen also help set the scene, for example, of blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

Up in heaven, the archangel Gabriel is instructing three angels about the effects of peer pressure.  He takes their wings and sends them to down to earth dressed as teenagers to experience peer pressure first hand.

All the teenagers sing, “I want to be in the band”, and one of the teenagers, Ginny (Tumelo Daniel) is so desperate she will do anything to get into the band and will be tempted to do something unethical.

Lucifer comes and disguised as a teenage called Lewis, he challenges Ginny to think up a way to prevent the heroine, Heather (played by Rose Elcome), from attending the audition.

The two girls first came into conflict in a classroom scene when the teenagers were writing a test and the teacher left the room.  The teenagers all got up to see each other’s answers except Heather who carried on writing with her hand over her test. Ginny, sitting next to her, asked her to move her hand so she could copy her work, but Heather refused, whereupon the teacher walked in and saw her talking, so she got 0 for her test.

But Heather revealed her true character when her boyfriend Tony (played by Anrich van Vuuren) asked her to go to Inspiration Point aka Lover’s Lane. Lewis/Lucifer (Ryle Murray) sings a song called “Don’t think about the consequences”.  But Heather resisted peer-pressure and said no.

“I would rather use my head than my hormones to decide important things that could affect the rest of my life,” she said.

In the end, Tony realizes he was wrong in his treatment of Heather and asks her forgiveness.

Meanwhile, Ginny intercepts Heather on her way to the audition and tells her that the audition has been set back by an hour.  The auditions continue without Heather and it is Ginny who gets chosen for the band.

Another teenager who is somehow chosen for the band is a knock-kneed nerd called Norman (played by Armand Oosthuizen).  With outsized glasses, bow-tie, suspenders and short pants, he is a figure of ridicule to the rest of the class.  While kneeling down at his locker, one of the angels opens her locker and accidentally knocks him on the head.

“My name is Grace, but you can call me klutz,” she says.

Norman falls in love with her and they sing the “Love Song for Two Nerds”.  Grace (played by Erin Birch) tells him she is an angel and must leave earth and Norman sings “Nobody knows what it’s like to be all alone”.

As the characters move through further conflict, despair, rescue and redemption, the Christian message shines through: to see other people through God’s eyes.

The play was directed and produced by El Shaddai principal Rene Payne.

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