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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
Sherwood High School’s annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival can easily be described as a revolving door of talent.
This year’s show, set for March 1-3 and March 8-10, will not only feature the talent of current students and staff, but also the talent of many who graduated and returned to share their professional expertise.
The show has inspired many of the students to pursue related careers.
Producer/music director Mike Maddox said he is aware of many Rock ‘n’ Roll alumni who have careers in dance, musical theater, music education, production and classical music. Many also perform gigs with local bands.
This year’s choreographers, Dottie Yahr and Samantha Felice, are Rock ’n’ Roll alumni. Felice is a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader and Yahr is a choreographer for the Ravens cheer squad, Maddox said.
Maddox said Paul Betances, the “sound guy” for Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival, started out doing sound/tech as a Sherwood student and turned it into a lifelong career.
Alumni Justin Horenstein teaches guitar and his students include several of the current Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival guitarists. He helps them to master the challenging numbers in the show.
Maddox said show organizers also consult with alumni Allison Miller, a successful musician living in New York City.
“We keep in touch with many of our alumni and they help us out a lot,” he said.
Maddox gives credit to the other adults working on the show, including co-music directors Alex Silverbook and Johnathan Dunn, who are teachers in Sherwood’s music department.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival began in 1971 and has become a beloved community tradition.
The original concept for the show was conceived by Sherwood students who were inspired by a concert at Madison Square Garden.
This year’s production, Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival 48: Free Ride, will feature a cast of about 300 students, including vocalists, dancers, band members and technical crew.
Maddox says the show will feature 40 songs spanning several decades, centered around the themes of transportation and freedom — cars, trains, planes and more.
“Ninety percent of the songs are about coming or going someplace, one way or another,” Maddox said.
The song list includes “The Locomotion” by Little Eva, “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “Night Train” by James Brown, “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell and “Come Sail Away” by Styx.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival 48: Free Ride will be performed March 1-3 and 8-10 in the Sherwood High School Ertzman Theater. Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances will begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.showtix4u.com/events/RRR. The show was on pace to sell out at The Greater Olney News press time.
For special seating, Rock ‘n’ Roll alumni seating or other special ticket requests, contact business manager Jenny Davis at email@example.com or during the school day at 301-924-3210.
Hitting the road after Revival
A glimpse of some of the many Sherwood Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival alumni who are successfully pursuing careers in the music and theater industry.
Years in Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival: 1996 to 2000
Roles in the show: Soloist and back-up singer (four years) and dancer (two years)
Fondest memory: Performing the Blues Brothers’ “Everybody Needs Somebody” duet as a freshman with senior friend Matt Keller. Also, after graduating from Sherwood, I was able to return two years later to watch my younger brother, Matthew Frace (Class of 2002), and Jason Sonnenchein reprise The Blues Brothers’ duet. A true big brother highlight.
How did Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival prepare you for your career? Being a part of Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival instilled in me a lot of confidence as a young performer. Working on the show allowed me to finally realize my true passion and calling … The opportunity to study with so many amazing mentors and collaborate with various talented classmates let me know that theater and music would be my life.
Where are you now? I am a professional actor living in New York City with over 19 years of experience in the business. I graduated magna cum laude from Elon University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music theater. I have performed in various Broadway National Tours, for Walt Disney Theatricals, and in over 20 regional theater productions. Additionally, I have acted in feature films, television, commercials, voiceovers and industrials. I also work as an audition reader for Tara Rubin Casting and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Last year, I appeared in the series “Bull” on CBS. Currently, I am performing in Jersey Boys at New World Stages in NYC.
Years in Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival: 2010 to 2014
Roles in the show: Vocalist, both solos and backups. Solo songs: “Runaround Sue,” “Wild Night,” “Good Riddance/Time of Your Life,” “Domino,” “Waiting on The World to Change,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “More Than Words” and “Let It Be.”
Fondest memory: Getting to close the show my senior year with “Let It Be,” alongside several of my best friends who were also Beatles that year. What a gorgeous, anthemic tune – we truly felt like rock stars.
How did Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival prepare you for your career? Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival was a crash course in all kinds of music from bands that we’re still standing on the shoulders of now. I’m an actor (in musicals primarily) and a composer, so the music I make/perform is certainly not without its influences … “More Than Words” taught me how to play guitar better, as it was a very exposed, acoustic piece, so there wasn’t much room for error. Those Van Morrison songs really freed me up as a performer and asked me to bring a grit that I didn’t previously exhibit. And all my backups taught me discipline on an ensemble level; every harmony and movement had to be committed to if the audience was to be truly transported back in time. Same goes for every musical theater show I’ve ever been in.
Where are you now? After recently graduating from the University of Michigan’s musical theater program, I am currently the understudy for Evan Hansen, Jared Kleinman and Connor Murphy on the first National Tour of the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” I’m also a theater composer and my most recent work is “Shel,” a musical about the life of Shel Silverstein written entirely in verse. I’ve had workshops/readings/productions of my plays in New York, Calgary, Charlotte, Ann Arbor, L.A., San Francisco and more to follow this summer. Grateful to be making things with wonderful people.
Years in Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival: 1989 to 1992
Roles in the show: I was the drummer. I also sang backup every year and sang lead a few years.
Fondest memory: My fondest memories are divided into two categories – onstage and offstage. My favorite onstage memory was playing “Everyday People” by Sly and Family Stone. This was my introduction to Sly and I loved getting into the groove of this song. The performance of “Everyday People” included the entire cast which, at the time, felt like a powerful representation of community and democracy. My favorite offstage moments included the epic hangs in the dressing rooms getting ready for the shows and the after-show parties.
How did it prepare you for your career? Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival introduced me to most of the great popular American classics from a diverse palette of styles. Rock-n-Roll, R&B, Soul, Hip Hop, Pop, Funk, etc. I was already familiar with the “American Songbook” from studying jazz from a very young age, but Rock ‘n’ Roll schooled me on four decades of Top 40 music. I am who I am as a drummer because of this – professional musician/artist/composer who is comfortable playing many genres of music and versatile.
Where are you now? I have been living in New York City since 1996. My band, Boom Tic Boom, just celebrated its 10-year anniversary with the release of our fifth album, “Glitter Wolf.” As a side-musician, I have worked with artists such as Sara Bareilles, Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Nona Hendryx, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Camille A. Brown, Michelle Dorrance and Artemis. Education is important to me. I am currently teaching at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (NYC), am the artistic director of Jazz Camp West (La Honda, Calif.) am Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2019 Artist in Residence, and am committed to giving clinics and masterclasses around the world while on tour.
Years in Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival: 2001
Roles in the show: Keyboardist; my piano solo was “Me and Bobby McGee”
Fondest memory: I was only in Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival my senior year because I didn’t feel like I had the skillset. During rehearsal, Mark Grunberg, a freshman keyboardist, came up to me and asked how I figured out the music to the song we were working on. I explained how I went back and forth on each individual note until I figured it out. I remember this vividly. To this younger student, I was a role model in a sense. It gave me confidence to think maybe I can do this.
How did it prepare you for your career? I bring up Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival during every interview I do. It was the first time I played keyboard in a band. I had played saxophone from fourth grade until college, so not a lot of people knew I could play piano. At that time, Rock ‘n’ Roll was most people I had played in front of, and it was crucial in my development as a performer.
Where are you now? I am living in Los Angeles and my band, Robot Nature, just released our debut single, “All my Life,” available on streaming platforms. The Eclectic Synthesis of Modern Pop and Synth Rock band has been together for two years. Over the past year, I reached some musical feats that I could have never imagined. My band performed at the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival with bands I grew up listening to – Hoobastank, Fuel, Lifehouse and The Wallflowers; and then at the Burning Man Festival main stage, where we opened for the Alan Parsons Project. We also traveled to Bulgaria, which is my first time performing out of the country while getting paid to do so. We have been honored to showcase our music to four major music labels, and they all want us to release more music and continue to grow. We have three additional singles ready to release.
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