“...You’re too young
To sell your soul
And you’re much too young
To grow old...”
TURN OFF! is a musical play about American teenage pressure and drug abuse. 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 Tomahawk team is composed of a group of goal-oriented kids, in touch with reality and real feelings. The Blazer team is comprised of instant gratifiers, both superficial and arrogant. Drug use abounds and is the Blazers’ chief short-cut to success and happiness on the basketball court, and in life.
A recruitment of select talent has created an all-star Blazer team. The Tomahawks are a team of limited talent, advanced to the Finals through an emphasis on “team ball,” led by its lone superstar, Eddie Diaz.
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, Rusty Jensen, (a Blazer cheerleader), is a drug user and a near drop-out. An “attraction of opposites” provides the basis for their love interest. Rusty’s encounter with Eddie prompts her to try to reform, while the hero himself goes on to experience a drug episode.
The clash of values erupts throughout the play in rivalry among the players and their cheerleaders, and in a climactic confrontation on the basketball court. Rusty’s inability to find enough strength to resolve her insecurities ends with a tragic heroin/fentanyl overdose. Eddie’s “brush with defeat” brings 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.