Rock of Ages, A Wild Ride: by Eve Brown-Ryder

crowd in front of people playing musical instrument during nighttime

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Memorial High School’s drama club, the Crusader Players, performed Rock of Ages (ROA) last week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All three performances went well for the Players, but what did it take for them to get there?


The musical was picked out at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year by the director, Mrs. Nice, and it came as quite a shock to the students. The school’s current drama club has only been around for two years after the previous group took a rather long hiatus. As to be expected, the young actors were quite anxious to be tackling such an involved musical in their second year of operation. Despite their premonitions, the crew was ready to take on the challenge.


They were supposed to hold auditions very early in the school year in order to give the actors a head start with learning their lines. Unfortunately, there were complications and the audition date was pushed back a couple of times. Regardless, there was a large showing for auditions and the parts were posted not too long after.


At the same time, ROA was having rehearsal, some of the Crusader Players took part in a theatre competition in which they had to prepare a short play. This was not good for the musical because the preparation for the competition ran parallel to a large time frame of Rock of Ages rehearsals. Throughout the course of the short play, the musical was getting less attention than it needed. Seeing as many of the Players in the musical were also in the competition, many of the essential actors for ROA could not attend rehearsal.


Production for the drama club’s main play all but came to a stop for the duration of the competition play, and it was critical that the actors buckled down and got to work afterward. Rehearsals were held every day after school. Music rehearsals were twice a week, dance rehearsals were once a week, and the other two days were for lines and blocking. It would be an understatement to say that these kids were spread thin, but at the time they thought they were preparing for show nights in the second week of April.


Per the usual with high school productions, dedicated actors came in short supply. Many students just got bored with the play throughout the process, and some had work or family matters that understandably trumped coming to rehearsal. Regardless of the reason, the number of students involved in the show dwindled and it was near impossible to have a rehearsal with everyone present. Due to the lack of rehearsal to rehearsal involvement and overall preparedness, Rock of Ages got pushed back a month.


Even with the month delay, the pressure was still on. There were still parts that weren’t filled, and students who were taking on roles within a month of opening night. Rehearsals continued to occur every day after school, and despite the show growing closer and closer it was still rare to see a day with everyone there.


The dress rehearsal was the Saturday before the show nights and even though there were only four days until showtime, the play still had not been run through from start to finish. The actors were in such a tight spot with the music that dress rehearsal had to be turned into a music rehearsal. That meant that the actors wouldn’t run through the play in its entirety until the night before opening night.


The first night of ROA was a Thursday and that Wednesday the Players were at the school until 10:30 at night going through the entire play from start to finish stopping intermittently to go through songs and dance routines. That night was the first night that the Crusader Players actually had complete confidence that they could pull the show off.


Thursday night went well for the actors, audience, and directors alike. There was so much energy on stage and the performers channeled their first-night jitters into putting on a great show. Everyone was happy with themselves and glad they made it through the first night of three. On Friday night, the actors were much happier with their performance than they were the first night. There were fewer mistakes and they were more comfortable with doing the musical in front of an audience. Saturday night was the closing night of Rock of Ages. It was a bittersweet night for the entire cast and crew as it was the final night for them to put their hard work on display. The last night was by far the best out of the three. The energy level of the actors was through the roof and the entire night went off without a hitch.


While it may have been a bumpy road, the Crusader Players pulled through. Every one of the devoted cast and crew members put 110% of their time and effort into the production, and it paid off in a big way. The drama club was happy to share their talent with everyone who came to see them, and they look forward to doing so for years to come.


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