Here I Go Again: Why the Eighties is Better the Second Time Around (Or Why YOU Should Produce Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition)
Stacey Boone and Melissa Leftwich are Theatre Arts and Art teachers at Jay M. Robinson Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Having completed performances of Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition last year, they share tips and some of their favorite moments of the show!
Our Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition cast achieved that big-hair look without destroying the ozone layer thanks to extra-hold NON-aerosol AquaNet hairspray and some great Glam Rock wigs. After several seasoned hair experts (AKA the directors and moms/dads) demonstrated a variety of classic teased hairstyles, our cast adopted the motto, “The cast that teases together, stays in character together.”
Producing Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition gave us an opportunity to relive our eighties Rock roots. Rebellion, relationships, and rock were a part of many rehearsal discussions. Our cast members looked forward to hearing about our first-hand embarrassing experiences. We knew we had the right musical after reading the character Lonnie’s opening monologue in which he delivers this line about the eighties: “...a time when not one person on this stage was born.” Finally, something we know more about than our middle school students!
The Creative Rips and Tears
Distressed clothing is back in style and you don’t have to go any farther than the local big-box or thrift store to costume your cast. If you don’t have time for a rip and tear eighties-themed party with your cast members, you can find ready-to-wear ripped and acid washed jeans at every clothing store for teens.
We had just as much fun singing the songs as our cast members did. The power ballads “More Than Words” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” inspired us to excavate old yearbooks and pore over creatively folded love letters from the dusty shoeboxes in our attics. In addition, our favorite eighties music is more accessible than it was back in the day. This time we don’t have to sit for hours waiting for our favorite Bon Jovi song to come on the radio, although we still miss Casey Kasem and his long-distance dedications.
The Dance Moves
We knew first-hand how to demonstrate some eighties vintage dance moves without conducting extensive research. Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition is the musical where banging your head in time to “I Wanna Rock” counts as choreography and jazz hands are the perfect ending to “Here I Go Again.” Plus, air guitar battles make great warm-up exercises.
The Crowd Participation
They may have used cell phones instead of lighters this time, but this jukebox musical inspired our “lived through it the first time” audience to rock out just like they did at a Whitesnake concert in the 1980s.
We Built this...SET...on Rock and Roll. All you need are a few battered bar stools, some tables, and a neon-inspired painted backdrop, and you have everything you need to create the seedy Sunset Strip of the 1980s. Add a platform for your band, and you are ready to feel the noize with Stacee Jaxx and Arsenal.
Remember watching the Twisted Sister music video where the young teenage boy shouts, “I Wanna Rock” in answer to his father’s spittle-laden question, “What do you want to do with your life?” The cast members’ protest in “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is as relevant today as it was the first time around. Are you listening Mom and Dad? We still want our MTV!
We couldn’t resist reintroducing one of the most powerful eighties love declarations to our cast members — the mixtape. The scene where Drew Boley gives his crush, Sherrie Christian, a home-made cassette tape featuring his favorite bands, including “Vixen, Ratt, and a killer Badlands live cut…” immediately took us back to a simpler time and our own first loves. Sure, we can make our own playlists on iTunes or Spotify, but there is something special about plugging in the cassette player, sitting captive by the radio, and hovering over the play and record button, waiting for just the right song.
The Big Dreams
“Don’t Stop Believin'” is the power ballad that refuses to let us give up on love. When a small town girl living in a lonely world meets a city boy on the Sunset Strip, we root for them to make it against all odds. As Drew races through the boulevard singing “Oh Sherrie,” we know their search is over. They seal it with a song and a Slurpee. Plus, it’s the finale, dude.
The perusal script and score for Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition is available to download for free until October 1st, 2018. Click here for more.