Rock ‘n Roll 2017 Revamping Songs and Style

by Lucy Kuchma ‘18

With Rock ‘n Roll rehearsals in full swing once again, the school is abuzz with talk of the upcoming spectacle. This year’s theme: Dance the Night Away.

Rock ‘n Roll will have some changes this year as a result of the return of Jonathan Dunn, a choir director who took a five-year hiatus from teaching to be a stay-at-home parent. Now that he is back, he is thrilled to aid co-director Michael Maddox in making Rock ‘n Roll 46 the best ever.

As it is the first year since long-time choir director Bill Evans has retired, the environment of Rock ‘n Roll practices is much different.

“Mr. Evans was such a dynamo, and he will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Dunn. “I can’t even express how honored I am to be back continuing his legacy! I’m thoroughly impressed by the talent we have in our community, and I enjoy seeing the evolution of music skills and abilities to grow as a result of such a wonderful experience.”

Students in the show already have noticed difference from years past. “It’s definitely more laid-back and chill while still high-stakes in the best way,” said junior Lily Rathbun.

“They’re definitely taking advantage of technology to provide students with backup tracks and reminders of rehearsal dates more than in past years,” said sophomore Grace Castle.

In addition to simply the changed feeling within the rehearsal room, Maddox and Dunn have amped up the structural planning of Rock ‘n Roll 46.

“The format of time blocks in place of a mere song order makes the system way different and a whole lot smoother,” noted junior Valentina Rojas, with regard to a new organizational rehearsal breakdown wherein choreography, backup vocals, and performance are each designated to a specific time block. This way, everything runs in a tight arrangement allowing for more progress and less wasted time.

The song choices also differ from those made under Evans’ control. “This year Rock ‘n Roll doesn’t showcase any modern music. Like last year had an Adele song and a Meghan Trainor song, but this year, it’s all oldies,” said junior Maggie Weigand. In previous years, the show has consistently included one or two songs that have been released within the past decade, whereas Rock ‘n Roll 46 features no recent music whatsoever.

But as always, the melodies range from seventies groove to nineties grunge, and will cover a wide variety of artists who fall into numerous subcategories of what people know as “rock and roll.”

This year’s set will not feature the iconic checkerboard or another themed floor that the school typically revives every five years, contrary to some rumors floating around. The floor was painted with records for Rock ‘n Roll 45 to fit the “Turn! Turn! Turn!” theme last year, so the decorated floor will not return for the next four years.

In addition to a new Rock ‘n Roll director, a new choreographer and dance instructor is joining the crew this year. Ashleigh Cecil was a Sherwood poms captain who graduated in 2011 and has returned this year to replace choreographer Annette Kaufman.

Kaufman was well into the third trimester of her pregnancy during Rock ‘n Roll last year, so a visibly noted difference is that Cecil is much more interactive in teaching the choreography, particularly the flips and lifts, this year.

“The old, classic tricks have been re-invented, and the new dances and tricks all have an exciting new feeling and vibe that will set this year apart from previous years. It’s more physically demanding and just more out there,” said junior Erik Mayerson.

Even with some changes in instruction, Rock ‘n Roll will not fail to impress as it has for the past four and a half decades. Each year, the directors do their very best to preserve as much tradition as possible each year to ensure each student that participates gets nearly the same experience that their brothers and sisters and even parents may have gotten as a part of Rock ‘n Roll in past years.