“...You’re too young
To sell your soul
And you’re much too young
To grow old...”
TURN OFF! is a musical play about drug abuse and American teenage pressure. The play involves the activities that lead up to a Championship Play-Off Game between two rival high school basketball teams, the Tomahawks and the Blazers.
The two teams represent opposing values and life styles - the “work ethic” vs. “instant gratification.” The Tomahawks are a group of goal-oriented kids. The Blazers are instant gratifiers, where drug use abounds and is the chief short-cut to success and happiness, in life and on the basketball court.
The protagonist, Eddie Diaz, is a Latino scholar/athlete. He is pressured by family and community to “make a name for himself” and “put the town on the map.” The antagonist, Emma Jensen, (a Blazer cheerleader), is a drug user and a near drop-out. An “attraction of opposites” provides the basis for their love interest. Emma’s encounter with Eddie prompts a desire within her to reform, while Eddie, the hero, goes on to experience a drug episode.
The clash of values erupts throughout the play in rivalry among the players and their cheerleaders, and a climactic confrontation on the basketball court. Emma’s inability to resolve her insecurities ends with a tragic heroin overdose. Eddie has a reaffirmation of self and a bitter-sweet victory on the basketball court.
The play ends with a Memoriam to celebrities who have died from drug abuse. A bell tolls as each name is announced. The stirring song, Turn Off!, is the musical finale.