By SHERIDAN CYR
The DePaolo and Kennedy Middle School Drama Club will take a trip through time and either introduce, or help to reminisce, the 1980s in their performance of the Broadway musical, “Rock of Ages.” Performances will be held at Kennedy Middle School at 7 p.m. on March 28, 29 and 30, and April 5 and 6.
The songs of Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and other artists underscore a tale of big dreams in Hollywood. Soon after hopping off a bus from the Midwest, aspiring singer Sherrie Christian immediately finds herself in trouble. Coming to her rescue is Drew, a bar-back at the legendary club, the Dupree Room. The young pair chase their dreams, but run into conflicts as they go.
Director Chris Palmieri made it a goal to involve as many students in each role as possible. “We have students involved in every aspect of the show, from acting and prop-making, to makeup and outfits, to the lights and sounds,” he said. The cast and crew together make up 106 students involved in the performance.
Palmieri said Rock of Ages was a great opportunity to use ensembles of 20 to 30 kids in each scene, rather than putting a spotlight on just a few students at a time. There are four main ensembles involved in the cast of about 50 students.
“I always try to give the students a different experience from year to year,“ Palmieri said. Last year, he explained, the Middle School Drama Club took on “Beauty and the Beast.” This year’s performance of “Rock of Ages” comes packed with more action and upbeat liveliness.
One of the main characters, Dennis Dupree, owner of the Dupree Room, is played by eighth grader Cayden Descoutures, participating in his third play with the Middle School Drama Club.
“I like this play because it goes back to the 1980s,” said Descoutures. “Music plays a big part in this play with heavy rock classics like Poison and Guns and Roses rather than the sort of big orchestral musicals.”
Descoutures said he is always excited to do something different, and to learn about a different time. He added that he enjoys the unity the cast and crew share as they work and rehearse together.
“I can’t thank them enough. Everyone is very nurturing, helpful and respectful,” he said. “We’ve all become great friends.”
Seventh grader Jackson Rafferty plays the part of Drew Boley, a bar-back at the Dupree Room.
“This play is a lot more high-action and more daring,” said Rafferty. “It’s nice for me to hear these songs and imagine how the 80s were.”
Rafferty is performing in his second year with the drama club. “The crew becomes very close knit together in just a few months,” he said. “Being in theater has helped build confidence and learn to be more mature and responsible.”
Palmieri was excited to bring the 80s experience to Southington middle schoolers. “They didn’t grown up listening to this music, but they have managed to really become their characters in these past few months of practice.”
Students will combine acting, singing and dancing talents to the award-winning musical for all five performances. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults. Tickets can be purchased from any cast or crew member, or by visiting either DePaolo or Kennedy Middle School. Proceeds from the performances will go toward defraying the expenses associated with the production.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI