While many School District 43 students were taking it easy during the two-week spring break last month, about three dozen Terry Fox secondary students were pounding nails into wood and painting sets for their upcoming theatre production.
And this year’s musical of Rock of Ages is shaping up to be one of the best shows yet for the Port Coquitlam high school, with a stellar cast singing iconic songs from the 1980s, wearing authentic costumes and dancing to steps similar to the choreography seen in the wild videos by Motley Crew and White Snake, among others glam rock/metal bands of the day.
Riley Langford (class of 2011) was recruited by drama teacher and director Dan Tilsley for the fifth time to help the teens learn the moves.
“There’s a lot of hair tossing,” he said during a rehearsal on Monday, the first day of school after spring break. “It’s pretty crazy what the bands put out there for their image back then.”
The cast of 30 will dance in the aisles to some of the hits while haze and lights will go off to mirror a gritty Los Angeles club scene.
A jukebox musical, Rock of Ages is set along the Sunset Strip in 1987 and tells the story of a love triangle between aspiring rocker Drew Boley — a busboy in the Bourbon Room — small-town girl Sherrie Christian (whom Drew convinces his boss to hire as a waitress at the bar) and eccentric rocker Stacee Jaxx.
Tilsley cast Grade 10 student Kenzie Newton, 15, as Sherrie while Grade 11 students Jaden Bricker and Hayden Calder take on Drew and Stacee.
Newton, who portrayed Judy in last year’s 9 to 5 production, said she auditioned for the lead part; she sings a solo, Harden My Heart, a 1981 classic made famous by the rock group Quarterflash.
A Pulse Dance student, Newton wanted to be in the show “because it’s like something I’ve never done before. It’s the best music of the ‘80s…. and I expect everyone in the audience to be singing along with us on stage.”
For Bricker — who portrayed Mr. Hart in 9 to 5 last year — and Calder, they’re eager to rock out their roles, too. Both are students of Steve Sainas, a Juno award-winning teacher who founded Fox’s Rock School, and they regularly perform in his biannual Rock the Fox shows (Calder has twice won the Band of the Year accolade).
In fact, the extra-curricular class picked Rock of Ages last October as their spring show because of their Rock School talent. “This was right up their alley,” Tilsley said.
“There’s a lot of rock and roll and, for the most part, they already know the ‘80s songs. It seems like what’s old is new again.”
Besides tapping Langford for choreography, Tilsley also recruited music teacher Ryan Cho to help with the vocals and Peter Haerdi for extra carpentry with the sets.
• Rock of Ages runs April 11 to 13 and April 18 to 20 at the Terry Fox Theatre (1260 Riverwood Gate, Port Coquitlam). The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. Call 604-941-5401 or visit ravenstheatre.com.
Cum on Feel the Noize/Just Like Paradise/Nothin’ but a Good Time
We Built This City/Too Much Time on My Hands
I Wanna Rock
We’re Not Gonna Take It
More Than Words/To be with You/Heaven
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Wanted Dead or Alive
I Want to Know What Love Is
Harden My Heart/Shadows of the Night
Here I Go Again
The Final Countdown/We Built This City
Any Way You Want It/I Wanna Rock
I Hate Myself for Loving You/Heat of the Moment
Hit Me with Your Best Shot Can’t Fight This Feeling
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Keep On Loving You
The Search Is Over
Don’t Stop Believin’