Severna Park students shake, rattle and roll Be-bop, jitterbug come back to life

March 11, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

James Dean could have stepped onto the Severna Park High School stage this week, and nobody would have been too surprised.

As the school's fourth Rock and Roll Revival show neared tomorrow's scheduled opening, practices seemed more and more like the real thing. For hours Tuesday night, more than 100 students be-bopped and jitterbugged and swayed to the rhythms of the 1950s and '60s, complete with poodle skirts and slicked back hair.

"People get to feel like they're in another era, and it's so much fun," said Tara Jewett, 15, one of two student directors. "It's that ambience of another time; people like to get into a different role."

From the extravagance of "Shake, Rattle and Roll," with a stage full of fellows flipping girls over their shoulders and singers dancing down the aisles, to a wistful rendition of "Breakin' Up Is Hard to Do," the rehearsal exploded with energy.

A 10-member band under the direction of Kevin O'Leary, a 20-year-old Severna Park alumnus, is on stage for the entire show.

Mr. O'Leary, a trumpeter and guitar player, has helped to transcribe the music from dozens of old 45 rpm records into full band scores for each production. This year's show involves about 40 different scores, he said.

"It's not like a normal play," said Beth Murphy, 14, who dances and sings in the show. "The audience gets into it. Older people remember the songs, and the kids like them, and everybody has a good time."

The audience certainly had a good time during Tuesday's rehearsal. Students shouted and whistled and sang along as the performers cha-chaed across the stage.

One vocalist, Mike Kasmir, known about the school as "The Kaz," said that Elvis was his hero and announced that the show confirms his belief that he himself is headed for stardom.

"When they sing 'Cool Jerk,' they're referring to me," he said, not cracking a smile.

Julia Weber, one of two choreographers, walked around, taking notes on the dance numbers.

"This show works because the kids have so much fun doing it, they sell it to their friends," she said.

The show has been a hit every year. Last year four sell-out performances grossed more than $26,500 at the door.

But putting the show on is expensive, said director Tom McKown, the school drama teacher.

Rented spotlights and other lighting equipment costs about $8,000 annually, technical director Gary Tawes said. The sound system has cost the school about $7,000.

"We have 1,000 watts of light at any given time," added Mr. Tawes, a volunteer.

More than 200 of the school's 1,200 students competed for 100 parts, Mr. McKown said.

"To have one-fifth of the school trying out for a play -- that speaks

for itself," he said.

This year, there are five performances, tomorrow, Saturday and March 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale for $6 at the school between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"The whole thing is unique for a high school production," said Mr. McKown. "It's fast-paced, energetic. It's the kind of show everybody likes, and the nostalgia is just fun."

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