By Dylan Roche
When the first-ever Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival took the stage at Severna Park High School in 1989, it started a tradition that – 30 years and about 800 songs later – would be one of those signature events that defines the community. Every year, the show brings together hundreds of student singers, dancers, musicians, technicians and stage hands, as well as countless parent volunteers, to recreate the hits songs of decades past. As the March 7 opening of 2019’s production draws closer, cast and crew alike are looking forward to sharing this milestone year with audiences.
“It’s something Severna Park is known for,” said Lauren Carlson, one of the student directors of Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival XXX. “When I say I’m in Rock ‘N’ Roll, people from other schools know what that is. It’s a great way to bring everyone together.”
In honor of its anniversary, Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival XXX takes a “Hall of Fame” theme, meaning that each number in the show’s lineup will be by an artist inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, and none of the songs will be repeats that were performed in a prior year. This will make the show extra special for those audience members who never miss a production of what’s colloquially known as RNR.
“I know a lot of people in the audience look forward to this every year,” said Erin Bast, a student dance choreographer. “They all go with family and friends, and they always love it and tell me how great they thought the show was. They’re always amazed every year by the talent in the show.”
It’s hard to say whether the show is more rewarding for those who are in the audience or those who are involved, as each of the student leaders in this year’s production raved about how the show brings students together in a way nothing else at the school does. Abby Burns, one of the student directors, said the people involved are her favorite part of RNR. “They’re incredible people,” she said. “They’re the most energetic people you’ll ever meet, and everyone’s so nice. We’re like one big family.”
The tradition encourages many students to cross social barriers. Megan Currie, a student producer, forwent playing basketball for the opportunity to be a part of RNR. “I remember I was so scared when I made it in the show,” she said of her first year. “I thought, ‘I don’t know anyone. This is a completely different thing.’ But once rehearsals started, I felt so welcome and just fit right in with everyone.”
As much fun as they have, the students acknowledge that they all do have to work hard, particularly in the last couple of weeks leading up to opening night. “Every year, tech week is its own set of challenges because it’s the first time we’re all together,” said Josephine Horrell, a student producer. “Up until tech week, we all practice separately. I’m a student producer and I don’t even know what’s going on with some of the songs until I see them for the first time during tech week.”
The same goes for the students who are working behind the scenes, as Dana Brant, the student technical director, explained. “When we’re building the set, we only know bits and pieces, so when we get to tech week, you finally get to see this big set you’ve been working on 13 hours a week,” she said. “You see it with lights, sound, people dancing and singing, and you’re just like, ‘Wow, that’s the final result. This is what it looks like and this is what it’s meant to be.’”
As the cast and crew put the finishing touches on this year’s production, the student leaders agreed that it will be a memorable one. “Everything just comes together,” summarized Gen Sampson, a student dance choreographer.
As for the lineup of songs that will be performed, that’s kept secret – so audiences will have to wait and see for themselves. But the student leaders agreed the “Hall of Fame” theme promises plenty of good numbers. “The playlist is one of the biggest of all time,” said Mary Fitzell, a student dance choreographer. “It’s got hit after hit that every generation knows.”
Although each of the seven scheduled performances sold out weeks before opening night, a wait list will be available at will call one hour before show time so that any turned-in tickets can be resold. Those who are interested in trying to see the show should visit www.sphsdrama.com for dates and show times.
Even those who have seen Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival many times before will not want to miss this 30th anniversary. “It’s such a major focal point for the community,” Burns said. “It’s not just us that love it. It’s the people who come to the show, and that’s who we do it for.”