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July 19, 2018

I Wanna Rock!


Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have always been on the search for the perfect musical that fits my students, my music director, and the community. When the curtain closed on March 2, 2018 I was elated that it had been found: Rock of Ages: High School Edition was our labor of love.

My music director and I are kids of the ’80s, as are most of the parents of our current students. We remember big hair, short skirts, and all the crazy colors. Rock so loud that your neighbors would call to tell you to turn that music down. But through this show we were able to turn up the amps to eleven! Sharing our childhoods helped shape the show into not just a musical, but a rock concert fit for our community. In fourteen years of teaching, only once before have I been as pumped for a musical, or any show for that matter, as I was to work on Rock of Ages.

I fell in love with Rock of Ages when I caught a production in Las Vegas back in September of 2016. While I rocked out with my wife and members of my EdTA family, I knew I would love to do this show. There was one problem which my wife quickly pointed out: There was no way in Hades that my conservative community would approve of the show as-is. Fast forward to June of 2017 as I sat with my music director to pick the next year’s musical. As we were skimming through Samuel French’s website I noticed the High School Editions, specifically that there was Rock of Ages: High School Edition. I quickly downloaded a perusal script, applied for the license, and we were ready to go.

The audition was different from those we have held in the past, as we had to see if students could sing rock ‘n’ roll. We selected the ever popular “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” In all my time teaching I have never seen a group of students as excited for a show. Time after time, students would come up to me and say how their parents would interrupt their audition rehearsal by singing the same song. This led to the introduction of more music from that era and even more excitement for the audition. Holy cow, we had enough guys sign up without having to beg!

After casting the show, the winter hit us hard – and nothing can ever prepare you for losing a week of rehearsal. However, the cast volunteered to give up extra hours, even Fridays and Saturdays, to get the show performance-ready. Both the cast and crew grew to love the music, and even now, a month after the show has closed, I still catch many of us singing many of the songs. In fact, I can even still yell out, “I want to rock,” and if any cast or crew member is around they will respond with, “Rock!” Usually at the end of our school’s musical, I’m ready to return to normal life.  But Rock of Ages ended, I realized that I didn’t want the journey to end. I was not tired of believing, and every rose, thorn or no thorn, was sweet. Post-show depression hit hard, but the songs and memories still live.

I am eternally grateful for the Rock of Ages High School Edition. This show will not be topped anytime soon for us. In fact, it’s the first musical for which I have sold out of our allotted tickets. The community rocked out each and every night, and moreover, sang their praises to the administration. From the beginning to the very end, the songs, cast, and crew will live in my heart and will make me smile anytime I think of this show. To borrow from a song from the show: This musical will take you high enough, and yesterday will be more than just a memory!

To learn more, and to inquire about performing Rock of Ages: High School Edition at your school, click here.