Beloved Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival Tradition Gets Its Feet Wet On New SPHS Stage
Consider it a little bit ironic that Severna Park High School Stage Company would choose “Atlantis” as the theme for this year’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, the music extravaganza that brings together not only the entire school to create it but also the entire town to watch and cheer for it. The stage décor and promotional materials might pay tribute to a legendary empire that sank beneath the ocean’s surface, but this production — the 28th installment of an annual tradition — is the first to take place in its own sort of legendary empire that was recently raised up on solid land.
That “empire,” of course, is the new Severna Park High School, and when the crowd enters the state-of-the-art auditorium on Thursday, March 9, they’ll be the first of thousands to experience Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival in a way that it’s never been seen before: with a bigger stage, better technical capabilities and seating for many more audience members.
And it’s safe to say the community is excited — the two-weekend, seven-performance run was nearly entirely sold out a week before the show even opened.
Featuring the talents of hundreds of students, including not only the singers and dancers who appear onstage but also the musicians in the band, the set designers, the technicians and stage crew, Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival brings together teenagers from every interest group and every social circle. Teachers step into roles as the artistic staff, including director/producer Angela Germanos; music directors Larry Friedman, Kathy Gabriele and John Halmi; and choreographers Kelly DeLeon and Heather Crammer. SPHS alumni return as tech staff, including production manager Alex Moundalexis, scene designer Jenn Nicolosi, sound designer Jacob Yarnell and light designer Brandon Eckstorm. Countless parent volunteers — many of whom have children that have long since graduated — step in to coordinate costumes for the lineup of nearly 40 song-and-dance numbers.
In a clever way of paying tribute to the new school, this year’s show opens with Starship’s “We Built This City,” triumphantly delivered by Hannah Hall, supported by dancers dressed in money aprons bearing the Falcons mascot, a clever nod to the efforts of many who worked to make the new building a reality.
The show continues with hits from the 1950s through the 1990s, giving generations of audience members a chance to wax nostalgic on the music of their era, all of which is given new life when it’s performed by the best of SPHS’ talented teenagers.
Many traditional elements of Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival return this year, such as the faculty number, in which teachers and administrators are dressed as sea creatures for a good-humored rendition of “Rock Lobster.” A boys’ ensemble (featuring Max Bachmann, Clifford Jamieson, Nolan Marks, Jake Wernecke and Eric Wilner) delivers a lively performance of “Rama Lama Ding Dong,” and a girls’ ensemble (Kylie Brewis, Erin Jeter, Sarah Kalafos, Abby Kondracki and Alex Paxton) spices it up with “Wanna Be.”
Then there are the big dance numbers, including a swinging “Zoot Suit Riot” sung by Matthew Bateman, the Jacksonesque “Rhythm Nation” sung by Mary Fitzell, a dynamic “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart” sung by Jason Bellanca and Lauren Carlson, a splashy “Splish, Splash” sung by Jonathan Turner, a heated-up “Cold Hearted” sung by Caroline Patterson and an ‘80s-centric “Sussudio” sung by Michael Bateman.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival always knows how to deliver on book-end numbers, and this year’s show promises to be no different, with an Act I finale of “Atlantis” led by Matthew Bateman, Anna Grace Keller, Miles Michalski, Stephanie Ours and Joey Riddle; an upbeat Act II opening of “Hip by be Square” led by Jack Hood; and the grand finale, “Rockaway Beach,” led by Jason Bellanca. And when the evening gets late, Matt Hall and Rebecca White will liven up Act II with “Gonna Make You Sweat,” supported by a host of backup singers and dancers.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival promises a little something for everybody by keeping the genres and decades varied, so there’s some soul (“Son of a Preacher Man” sung by Kendall Bear), a pop ballad (“Hero” sung by Josee Molavi), a jazzy serenade (“Beyond the Sea” sung by Jake Wernecke), a Motown tune (“Love is Here” sung by Vivian Flanagan), rock gospel (“River of Dreams” sung by Clifford Jamieson), metal (“Barracuda” sung by Bianca Radice) and, of course, rock ‘n’ roll (“Come Sail Away” sung by Max Bachmann).
Song decades span from the ‘30s (“They Can’t Take That Away” sung by Elena DeMajistre) to the ‘50s (“Sea of Love” sung by Eric Willner and “How Deep is the Ocean” sung by Kalli Bellotte) and through the ‘60s (“You Don’t Own Me” sung by Alena Carhart, “Surf City” sung by Michael Bateman and Sam Hickman, “Too Many Fish in the Sea” sung by Abby Burns, “Baby, I Love You” sung by Gillian Eitel, and “It’s Your Thing” sung by Xavier Simms-Jackson), the ‘70s (“Band of Gold” sung by Isabel Gonzalez, “Jazzman” sung by Cora Keene, “Lowdown” sung by Joey Riddle, “Rock the Boat” sung by Carson Brinegar, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” sung by Ashley Rolf, “Message in a Bottle” sung by Nolan Marks, and “Locomotive Breath” sung by Ryan Rendina), the ‘80s (“Heaven is a Place on Earth” sung by Rachel Kalafos, and “The Ocean” sung by Sam Hickman) and even the ‘90s.
With such a great lineup and so much talent involved, Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival once again looks to be must-see entertainment for Severna Park. For more information on the show, or to get on the wait list for tickets, visit www.sphsdrama.com/rock-and-roll-revival.html.