Every two years, students of Huntsville High School come together to create a musical for their entire community to enjoy. This year, they’re taking Huntsville back to big hair and electric guitars with 80s classic, Rock of Ages.
Set in 1987 and featuring such hits as Starship’s “We Built This City” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, the musical touches on themes of love, rock and roll and pursuing your dreams.
Although Rock of Ages features numerous story lines, the plot is focused around two small town kids, Sherrie and Drew, looking to make it big in Hollywood.
However, when German real estate developers try to demolish the Sunset Strip, home of the famous Bourbon Room bar where Sherrie and Drew work, the rock community is faced with a dilemma. In order to fundraise to save their bar, Dennis, the owner of the Bourbon Room, seeks out the help of ‘Rock God’ Stacee Jaxx. When things don’t go according to plan, Hollywood’s rock lovers must unite in order to save not only their bar, but the entire Sunset Strip.
“We decide on the musical about two years in advance,” said director and teacher, Ian McTavish. “How we narrowed it down to this one was actually pretty easy. I had about five different musicals in mind so I bought all the soundtracks and kept them on a loop in my car. I kept finding myself skipping to the Rock of Ages soundtrack so I knew it was the one!”
Auditions were held in June, rehearsals began in September and the students have been practicing four days a week ever since.
The Rock of Ages directing team is made up of four teachers from HHS: McTavish, Louis Tusz (Musical Director), Kim Russell Brooks and Jennifer Creasor (Costume Design). Choreography is led by Lynn Hill and Sam Barber from the Muskoka Dance Academy and makeup is done by HHS student, Rachael Lemon.
The cast and crew is comprised of 35 students. There are 10 stage crew, 20 cast members and five band members. “We have so many talented kids at our school and they work so hard,” said McTavish.
As there are three major story lines, there are nine lead characters in the production. Luke Murphy plays Drew, Cami Greenleaf plays Sherrie, Colin Welsh plays Stacee Jaxx, Ocea Harris plays Justice Charlier, Couper Ebbs-Picken plays Lonny, Shawn Marks plays Dennis, Chloe Peca plays Anita, John McBrien plays Franz, and Briar Summers-Arndt plays Hilda.
“Theatre is a huge part of my high school experience,” said Colin Welsh, the grade 11 student playing Stacee Jaxx. “Everyone is super genuine and no one is afraid to be themselves.”
Each year, the money fundraised from the production goes towards the Leadership in the Arts scholarship. Some of the money is also put back into the HHS Theatre program to buy the rights for the next production two years from now.
Rock of Ages is a blast from the past. There are so many stories within the musical about people pursuing their dreams. It’s a show the entire family will love.Cami Greenleaf (aka Sherrie)
The show runs at the Algonquin Theatre from November 29 to December 3. Tickets are available at the box office or online at algonquintheatre.ca.
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