Dance moves like The Twist, The Mashed Potato and The Pony may have fallen out of style, but a group of students at Valleyview secondary have fully adopted the retro moves for their upcoming musical, A-Wop Bop A-Loo Bop.
A cast and crew made up of students from grades 8 to 12 will take to the stage at the school from May 10 to May 13.
The play was written in 2020, but is set in the 1950s, with high school students rebelling after the local radio station decides to stop playing rock ‘n’ roll.
“Our kids, I feel, are very old school. They’re very old-spirited. They already knew many of the songs, like Tutti Fruiti and Jailhouse Rock,” said director Marietta Magliocchi.
Singing and dancing feature heavily in the play, so Magliocchi enlisted the help of music director Jaymi Daniels and Kamloops Dance Academy teacher Liz Ioannidis, who is in charge of choreography.
“The fact that they’re rebelling against the man, that’s something they can identify with and relate to no matter the time frame,” Daniels said.
Ioannidis is used to working with beginners, but for this play, she took a grown-up approach.
“I think only a few of them have dance experience and I’ve decided not to go easy on them so they can look good,” she said. “They’ve hustled like crazy.”
Grade 12 drama student Sascha Hall plays lead character Ruby. She has acted before, appearing in last year’s production of Puffs. She has also attended a Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music arts camp.
“It’s a lot more effort than a normal play. It’s acting, singing and dancing, sometimes all at the same time,” Hall said.
Fellow Grade 12 actor Kaitlyn Bennett plays Judy, a quirky, energetic junior. Bennett picked up the new dances quickly, researching The Twist, The Mashed Potato and The Pony and helped teach the moves to her fellow cast members.
“I didn’t realize how much goes into making a musical happen,” Bennett said. “There’s so many different things. Last year I did Puffs and there was no music or dancing, but with that involved, it’s a whole other level.”
Ioannidis said anyone who has performed in a musical knows how difficult they can be, especially in the final weeks of preparation.
“These kids, they get it and they’re a really nice little teen family,” she said.
The play has four showings, each night at 6:30 p.m. from Wednesday, May 10, to Saturday, May 13, at Valleyview secondary.
Tickets to A-Wop Bop A-Loo Bop are available at the school office — $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger.