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Shipley’s Choice Cruises Through Mini Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival

Judy Tacyn
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May 3, 2017

Shipley’s Choice Elementary School students, families and guests were splishin’ and a splashin’, rockin’ and a rollin’ on April 29 and 30 during the school’s eighth annual Mini Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival.

To follow the school’s “Sailing into Success” theme for 2016-2017, Shipley’s Choice music educator Denise O’Neal came up with the show theme, “Sail-ebrate our Show!”

Students performed familiar maritime tunes such as “In the Navy,” “Sea Cruise,” “The Tide is High,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Sea of Love,” “Surfin’ Safari” and “Come Sail Away,” as well as classics like “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Tutti Frutti,” “Working for the Weekend” and “December, 1963.”

Fourth- and fifth-grade students auditioned for cast roles in December 2016, while other classes signed up for crew or production roles. While the cast sang and danced, the crew designed, built and worked on the set, managing the props, music, microphones, spotlights and stage lights. The production crew came up with the theme, T-shirt design and posters, and they worked concessions and ushered during the show.

O’Neal said that parents were a vital element to the success of the show this year, and every year. “I had parents who were committee chairs who helped with everything from costumes, advertising, the program, tickets, crew, concessions, food for the kids backstage during the show, and so much more,” she said. “Parents shopped for deals for costumes, painted and built whatever needed to be made. They also made trips to the high school to borrow costumes from them.”

While O’Neal focused on the students as they performed, parents helped supervise rehearsals and worked during the shows. Several Severna Park Middle and Severna Park High students also volunteered to make the production a success.

“This year, I had four middle school choreographers, one middle school crew helper and four high school choreographers,” added O’Neal. “They met with me, decided which numbers they wanted to work on, either with the dance or vocals, let me know their availability, and they would come and teach during rehearsals. They also helped with auditions.”

O’Neal believes her students enjoyed working with the older kids. Many of the elementary students, such as fifth-grader Sean Williams, want to perform next year at Severna Park Middle School.

“I danced and sang in the cast. My favorite piece was the one I had a solo in, ‘December, 1963,’” Sean said. “I danced in ‘Sea of Love’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’ with a partner.”

The young actor said he practiced at home and during rehearsals after school. “My favorite song was the solo I sang because it gave me a chance to do what I like: singing and dancing,” he added. “I hope to continue at Severna Park Middle School if I can.”

Aaron Bramble was a fourth-grade member of the crew. “For the Saturday show, I worked spotlight, and for the Sunday show, I worked backstage with props and set change,” Aaron said. “I liked being in the crew because I like to make things for props. Shining the spotlight was fun because you get to shine [the big light] and watch the show.

“We did not [have to] meet as much as the cast, but we worked after school several days,” Aaron added. “Our work really came during the show.”

A second-year, fifth-grade cast member, Perry Stevenson also took the show as a leaning opportunity. “In rehearsals, I practiced my vocals and the choreography to my dances and the song that I sang, and improved at them,” said Perry, who performed in several numbers in the show. “I would like to continue performing at the middle school, especially in the school play.”

As the show prepared to amaze audiences, O’Neal said, “I hope the audience saw how amazing these young kids can be, and how much fun they had while performing.”

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