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Pop Culture/Theater History Reference of the Week, or Why You Should Know Debbie Gibson

Deborah Gibson as Eponine in Les Misérables
Deborah Gibson as Eponine in Les Misérables

Yesterday in NBYT’s Homeschool Enrichment Program, one of our Teaching Artists made a reference to Debbie Gibson. The homeschool program is for children ages 12 and under, some as young as 5. You can probably guess that the reference seemed to come Out of the Blue and flew right over the heads of our Electric Youth. (See what we did there?)

We’ve noticed a pattern though. It’s a pattern that our parents and teachers, and their parents and teachers, have probably noticed for generations. If we, as parents or teachers, make a pop culture or historical reference to anything older than five or ten years, then many of the kids we’re talking to just don’t get it. So, we’ve decided to do our part to help some of those references—especially references connected to theater—be understood.

Once a week, we’re going to post a Pop Culture/Theater History Reference of the Week. We won’t tell you everything you need to know about any person, place, or thing. We’ll give you some basic details and link to some pages. If someone or something interests you, click and read on. (Be sure to ask for mom or dad’s permission to surf the ‘net if you need to!) Or maybe you can come back and read more if the name comes up again. Or maybe you’ll just remember it if you hear it again. So, we might as well start with Debbie Gibson.

Debbie Gibson, also known professionally as Deborah Gibson, was a teen pop star in the 1980s and she continues to perform today. Her first hit song was Only in My Dreams in 1986. In 1988, with the song Foolish Beat, she became the youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1989, she received an award for Songwriter of the Year and tied for that award with Bruce Springsteen! (We may tell you about Bruce another week.)

Debbie has also been on television, in movies, and on Broadway. She’s played some of the best roles in musical theater including Eponine in Les Misérables and Belle in Beauty in the Beast. And how did she start her theater career? As a child in community theater not far from her home on Long Island! So, NBYT kids, you might be a pop culture reference in twenty or thirty years!

Is there a pop cultural or theater history reference that you think theater kids need to know? Tell us in the comments and that might be a future Reference of the Week!

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