In Their Words: SPHS Students Reflect On Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival

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When events started getting canceled as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, Severna Park High School’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival XXXI: True Colors was no exception.

The cancellation was especially hard for the student performers, band members, tech crew, hair and makeup crew, parent volunteers and staff who were assembled for the 40-number show. One of the rehearsals was filmed and is available on DVD here.

The Voice wants to highlight some of the students who were set to perform for audiences, and senior Zoe Smith helped us contact her fellow performers. Here’s what students said about this year’s show.

 

Zoe Smith
Senior
Student Leader/Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A:
This year I was a student leader, so I helped choreograph and block backup moves and assist with vocals for specific songs. I also sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin.

Q: What did you like about it?
A:
I have dreamed about singing this song for many years, as it is one of my family’s favorite songs. I also auditioned with this song my freshman year, so it was such an honor to be given this opportunity. Aretha speaks so much volume and emotion throughout this song and it was such a wonderful challenge vocally and emotionally, but also a life-changing journey.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
This was my fourth and final Rock ‘N’ Roll, and like all past experiences, it was nothing but the best. But since this year was unfortunately cut short, I feel the cast was so much closer but on a different level. We were all feeling everything together; the good and the bad. We all knew by just looking at each other how truly heartbreaking this was.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A:
When I first heard the news, like everyone else, I was shocked. No one knew what to say or how to react. But as we continued our show for the last time, and truly my last time, the sadness and heartbreak had hit. I felt it the strongest when I looked around during our finale, at my best friends, who I have performed with since middle school, and saw the pain in their eyes. I will never forget our final bow together and how much we wished we could have seen a flooding audience on their feet. I am happy that there is some documentation of our wonderful show, but I do wish we could have performed live.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A:
Rock ‘N’ Roll has truly changed my life and has been one of the best experiences of my high school career. I have met so many amazing people, learned so many valuable lessons and grown as a person and a performer, and for that I am forever grateful.

Hannah Hall
Senior
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A:
This year I was singing “Flashdance … What a Feeling” by Irene Cara.

Q: What did you like about it?
A:
This song was really special to me because I connected it to the “feeling” I got when performing onstage in Rock ‘N’ Roll. I was so grateful to sing it for my last show as a senior.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
I have been in the show since freshman year. I started off Rock ‘N’ Roll XXVIII singing the opening number, “We Built This City” by Jefferson Starship. I still get butterflies in my stomach every time I hear that song on the radio.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year (other than that DVD)?
A:
To be frank, I was devastated. During the rehearsals leading up to that point, I could see the show really coming together. It was definitely a sour note to leave off on. But it makes the memories I have made the past four years in Rock ‘N’ Roll that much more special.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A:
Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival is such a special experience and I am so grateful for all of the new bonds I have formed over the last couple years. I can’t wait to come back and cheer on the underclassmen during next year’s performance.



Lacey Ordakowski
Senior
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A: This year I had the privilege of singing “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” by Cass Elliot.

Q: What did you like about it?
A:
I really enjoyed the message behind my song this year; it was very empowering. I also loved my costume that Laura Ivey made me! I felt confident and was really excited to be able to tell the audience a story through my performance.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
This was my fourth and final RNR. Each year has been a blast. I’ve met many students, parents and teachers through the show each year. It was my favorite part about high school because it is a show where you can hang out with your closest friends while still performing.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A:
I am devastated that we cannot share our show with the community. The cast, band, directors, tech crew, costume moms and makeup committee have all worked so hard to make this show spectacular, and not being allowed to share our hard work with our loved ones is hard.



Annabelle Cotton
Senior
Student Producer/Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A: I sang “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette.

Q: What did you like about it?
A: Alanis has been one of my favorite artists for a while, but this year it feels even more special. Everything about this situation is completely “ironic,” and sometimes you just have to laugh and yell about it, and that exactly what that song does. I love singing it, especially now.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A: This was my fourth Rock ‘N’ Roll. RNR is the most chaotic, exciting, difficult and fun experiences I’ve ever had. Every year is different, but they all leave memories of the time backstage and the songs in the show.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?

A: The truth of the situation, it hurts. Plain and simple, watching 100-plus people work on something for three months to suddenly lose is heartbreaking and I felt it for the first few seconds of the news. But after that, I thought to myself, “Nothing is going to change. What happened here is what happened, and as much as I can wallow in it, it won’t do me any good." You have to look for the silver lining because if you don’t, all you get out of a great experience is just anger. So my reaction to this year’s Rock ‘N’ Roll is, “This will always be one I will never forget.”
It was special and it was just for us. I have never been a part of a cast who had clung to each other so much. As soon as we heard the news, we cried, we cheered, we laughed, we performed, and we cherished it. Doing that opening number when we knew it was the last time, that was the most electric feeling I have ever had in Rock ‘N’ Roll. So, while it may be disappointing, it was the most memorable Rock ‘N’ Roll yet. I’ve done it for three years; maybe it was time for something different.

Simone Werner
Senior
Student Choreographer/Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year's show?
A:
This year in Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, I was one of three student choreographers. I was also a dancer in six numbers of the show and a back-up vocalist in one number of the show.

Q: What did you like about it?
A: I loved being a student leader this year because I had the unique opportunity to be a part of what makes the show so special. Dancing is a large aspect of RNR, and I was so happy to be able to choreograph for the show for my last RNR as a senior.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A: This was not my first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival. I am a four-year senior, which means I have been in the show since my freshman year! My past experiences with RNR were beyond amazing. I met so many talented and creative students because of the show and was able to bond with my castmates over the love we all share for performing.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A: We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to film the show and that most of the cast remained in good health while doing so. Of course, it was upsetting that we did not get to perform in front of an audience, especially as seniors. However, I was glad that this decision was made because it helped keep our cast and community safe from this virus.



Nick Ivey
Junior
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year's show?
A:
This year I was dancing and singing, but I had a solo as well. I sang “Lights” by Journey.

Q: What did you like about it?
A:
I’m a big fan of Journey, so I was very excited to work on it and see it onstage.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
This was my third Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, and it was still a blast. My past experiences were great, filled with friends and a very supportive group.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A:
Although it really does suck to not be able to perform for an audience, I still had so much fun working with my friends and really putting on a show for ourselves.



Jaron Givens
Junior
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year's show?
A:
In this year’s show, I had the honor to sing “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown.

Q: What did you like about it?
A: What I loved about my song was that I was able to dance and sing at the same time. This song gave me the time to really move and interact with our potential audience. I also loved Rock ‘N’ Roll this year because I got to meet some great new people and build on past friendships.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A: My past experiences in Rock ‘N’ Roll were great! I think that this show is what really allowed me to become so close with upperclassmen. Since everyone in these shows are so diverse and have so much talent, I was able to create bonds that I think will be everlasting.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A: I was devastated when we heard the news. I was mainly upset because we had worked so hard for months to perfect the show. Castmates would help each other with their numbers. Tech worked hard to plan the set, the lighting, and such. Also, makeup worked hard to make us look our best onstage. I think that RNR XXXI would have been a great show if shown publicly because we all had so much passion and drive to make this show amazing.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: I hope audiences will still enjoy RNR XXXI on their screens at home. I hope they will join us for next year’s performance. That’s all for now. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.



Joseph Schroeder
Freshman
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A:
My role in Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival was that of a backup singer and dancer.

Q: What did you like about it?
A: The thing I liked about Rock ‘N’ Roll was the people and everyone involved. I felt welcomed every second I was there. Everyone was always so nice and funny.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
This was my first Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A: I was upset. I was disappointed that the people of the community couldn’t come and see the talent of everyone involved and see the hard work we all put in to make this show great! I was sad that others couldn’t relive memories through these songs and see our spins on them.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A:
I would like to add how grateful I am to have had this opportunity and to spend so much time with all of these awesome people! Being in Rock ‘N’ Roll was a truly amazing experience.



Peter Cope
Senior
Student Band Director/Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A:
I was the student band director this year. In addition to playing trombone, I made sure that the band was sounding as great as always, and I held rehearsals for the "band jam," the time in the show when the band gets to show off and everyone takes a turn improvising. I was also the lead vocalist for “Blue Velvet” and danced in “Men in Black.”

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
I have been a trombonist in the band all four years of high school, and I have been a lead cast member the last two. Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival has always been a lot of fun for me, but more than that, it has increased my confidence. I moved to Severna Park as a shy freshman in high school, but Rock ‘N’ Roll gave me a home, a family, where I felt I belonged and was able to recognize my talent. I have seen this same pattern manifest itself in other people year after year, and that has been the most joyous thing to witness: someone realizing their worth and potential.
The band has always been really supportive. Even when I was the only freshman in the band, they took me in and accepted me as one of them. Singing has also been really exhilarating; I didn't even know I could sing until Rock ‘N’ Roll my junior year.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A: When I first heard that Rock ‘N’ Roll had been canceled, I was in shock. I didn't sob, I didn't break down, I was in complete and utter disbelief. “It is so ironic,” I thought, “that this had to happen my senior year,” and I actually laughed at it at first, as if it was one big cruel joke. But it wasn't a joke. The sting sunk in over the next few days. I was very disappointed, and the thought lingered in my mind that it was all over, for good.

Yet, even in the midst of all this heartache, I managed to have the time of my life on our last night. I think everyone did. Because we knew that this was our last chance, we really went all out! The band performed the band jam for the first time onstage during the recording on the last night, and they killed it! Act I wasn't perfect, but it was the most energetic act I've ever been a part of. It was amazing. And as Annabelle Cotton pointed out on the last night in a breathtaking speech, what makes Rock ‘N’ Roll great is and has always been the people in it. We still got to spend time together making music, and no one can take that away from us. I will always look back on Rock ‘N’ Roll with fond memories, including this one.



Gianna Dicks
Freshman
Performer

Q: What was your role or song in this year’s show?
A:
I had a lead this year, singing “Navy Blue” by Diane Renay.

Q: Was this your first Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival? If not, what were your past experiences like?
A:
I loved everything about Rock ‘N' Roll. The environment itself was the most welcoming place; everyone was happy to be there and showed so much compassion toward each other. There was so much support. I never saw a time where people split off into their own small groups, because everyone was so happy and comfortable to mix in with people they didn't know before.
Some of my favorite RNR moments came during tech week. We were all aware of the possibility of getting canceled, so at any time they could, people would come into the auditorium to watch and cheer on those who were performing. It gave a sense of an audience, but the best part was that our audience was filled with the most supportive, amazing people who were there because they loved the same thing as you and wanted to watch you shine. Nobody was there because they had to be; they were there because they wanted to be, and receiving that kind of love from other people is one of the greatest gifts you can ask for in life.

Q: What is your reaction to not having the opportunity to share RNR publicly this year?
A: I was very sad to learn that we couldn't share RNR XXXI with the public. So much time, love and dedication was put into that show, and it's extremely heartbreaking that people can't experience the talent of this year’s cast, crew, makeup, band, costumes, direction and every other category that fit into the production. Whether they seemed big or small, they all mattered. Rock ‘N’ Roll is the definition of saying "blood, sweat, and tears" when talking about hard work, because I have never seen a group more dedicated to a final result than this wonderful bunch of people.

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