They can work it out.
In what has become a grim sign of the times in public schools state-wide, Rocklin High School’s VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) program is currently feeling the pinch of California’s lingering budget crisis, which has seen several “non-essential” (to use a vulgar term) educational programs fall onto the chopping block.
As such, the 2010-2011 Rocklin High student musical, an annual tradition since the school’s opening, finds itself in serious jeopardy due to lack of funding.
When I find myself, in times of trouble….turn to the Beatles.
In what was ultimately more of a rock show than a theatrical revue, a spirited group of current and former Rocklin High students and faculty, featuring a revolving cast of 19 vocalists, kicked off three straight performances of “Save the Musical: A Tribute to the Beatles” on Thursday night at the RHS theater, with all proceeds going to ensure that the school musical will indeed see the light of day.
“Save the Musical” continues with performances on Friday, August 6 and Saturday, August 7 at 7 p.m. at the Rocklin High theater, 5301 Victory Lane in Rocklin. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.savethemusical.com.
If you are unable to attend one of the remaining two shows, donations can be made towards the musical on the show’s website.
Before a single note had been sung, what was immediately impressive was the selection of tunes from the Beatles’ dauntingly expansive catalog. The Rocklin Thunder did not take the cheap route on this one (i.e. your “Octupus’s Gardens,” “Why Don’t We Do It in the Roads” or “When I’m Sixty-Fours”).
Much like the Fab Four’s eponymous debut on Ed Sullivan in 1964, Alex Giddings (a young man who indeed seems to have been born in the wrong decade) kicked off the show with “I Saw Her Standing There,” backed by a razor-sharp band that included music director and bassist Kevin Just, director and lead guitarist John Hughes, guitarist Matt Kilbourne and drummer Robbie Wanamaker.
The cast went for some emotional and festive juggernauts in the first set, including “Yesterday,” sung with impassioned poise by senior Jake Asaro, “In My Life” belted through the ceiling by Jessica Bronte, and Annie Dick’s sneaky and sharp take on “Day Tripper.”
The first set closed with a brain-twisting full cast take on “A Day in the Life,” led with fortitude by Giddings and Joe Lopez and complete with the tune’s signature wall of percussion and primal psychedelics (whoops, are we allowed to use that word in high school?).
Check out this video of the cast performing “A Day in the Life.”
Taking nothing away from this fine ensemble of vocalists, class of ’06 alum Kit Drozdoff established himself a tour de force, belting out “We Can Work It Out,” “Revolution,” “Let it Be” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with surgical precision and an undeniable “it” factor while also working the keys.
Additional highlights of the show included a raucous “Come Together,” led by Lopez, and a mischievous Jeremy Crooks using the soul-searing “Something” to serenade RHS vocal director Meredith Hawkins, who had her entire cast finely tuned in to the vibe of Lennon, McCartney, et al throughout the entire performance. Hawkins also lent backing vocals and keys to the performances.
As formidably and impressively as the cast of youngsters pulled these tunes off, what is equally astounding and refreshing is how the music of the Beatles continues to be immune to pop-plagued generation gaps, and never seems to get the “we’re not into it because our parents are into it” treatment from a team of exuberant performers helping to solidify the Fab Four’s endless longevity.