By Shira Palmer and Kiara Alvarez
On March 12, one of the most anticipated events of the year for choir fanatics all around took place at our very own Council Rock High School North. Ten schools joined together to create a night filled with funny moments and amazing music, also known as A Cappella at the Rock. Not only were the student performers extremely talented, but also the night was topped off with the appearance of The House Jacks, a successful band that has been featured in CNN, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.
The show started off with our very own Rhythm of the Rocking performing “The Way You Make Me Feel,” a feel good pop song by beloved Michael Jackson. Although North Choirs performed, we were not permitted to win any awards because we were hosting the event (but don’t fret, North performances received some of the highest marks). The vocal groups were judged in categories such as tone quality, intonation, vocalization, musicality, and best solo. Especially talented singers were eligible to win awards in categories like Outstanding Male Vocalist, Outstanding Female Vocalist, Outstanding Vocal Percussion, and Best Overall Effect.
The Chamber Singers from the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush had the top overall score, a deserved placing. Judges gave their fantastic performance a 99.4 out of 100 points. North Voice attained the second best score with a 95.1 from their song “Run to You,” an outstanding piece that was also performed on the choir’s trip to England and Scotland. After the schools performed, The House Jacks sang beautifully on stage. It felt like a true concert and was mesmerizing to imagine that this was all occurring at our very own school. They sang some original songs and then allowed requests from the audience. The requests were entertaining and included songs such as “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj, songs from Hamilton (which they unfortunately were not familiar with), and “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men. However, the crowd pleaser was definitely “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. By the first chord, almost half of the auditorium was lit up by phone flashlights waving in the air. By the end, the requests piled up, so the band made some mash-ups that thoroughly entertained the audience for the remaining time.
A Cappella at the Rock ended with a big bang. All ten schools surprised the crowd with thousands of high-school choir students onstage, singing their hearts out, as they performed “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia with the accompaniment of The House Jacks. It was a powerful and intense moment when rival schools (like Council Rock High School South) united with us to make the crowd go wild, making the event an official success. It was an event that brought together all types of music fans, whether they liked rap, Broadway, or pop. The fun wasn’t limited to just choir members, but friends and family also had a blast. We are all anticipating next year’s A Cappella at the Rock and all of the surprises and fun that will lie in store.
By Margaret Zheng
Children crave stories and indulge in anything magical or mysterious, from Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy to the tales of Mother Goose and cultural equivalents of the above. But what happens when they grow up?
Edward Bloom is a storyteller. He’s a character in Big Fish, a modern musical, based on a novel and movie by the same title, that North’s Sock ‘n’ Buskin theater group is preparing to produce. In the show, Edward’s passion and pastime is to recount fantastical, clearly exaggerated tales of his “heroic” youth, which by his accounts involved encounters with a witch, a mermaid, a giant, and plenty more.
But young children, once avid listeners to tales, often become critical of such far-fetched fiction. William Bloom, Edward’s adult son, no longer wants to hear the imaginative version of Edward’s life. He is frustrated that despite having thirty years with him, his father is still a “stranger” whom he knows only by his incredible tales, which, Will maintains, cannot depict the true Edward.
Thus the plot of Big Fish is set in motion, though I have certainly squeezed out the sweetest and tangiest elements of the exposition and omitted enough of the emotional nuances for this story to sound a bit corny. The show’s just too “big” to be summarized. Which is why you, reader, must see it.
Behind the scenes, the cast and the pit orchestra (the crew hasn’t banded yet) have toiled over lines and songs, the cast having rehearsed since January, in preparation for the show’s opening on April 28. “We’re almost there,” says Riley Kantner, an actor playing multiple roles, “and I know it will be really good.”
James Hakowski, who will perform as Edward, relates to the story, despite the uniqueness of the portrayed father-son relationship. He reflects, “I think it’s something you can understand between a son and a father, and I think it’s beautiful.”
Concerning rehearsals, which can be up to six times a week for lead roles like his, James says, “It’s a wonderful experience when we get something well done.”
As keyboardist in the pit, I must agree with James’s assessment: though the music is challenging, and my part is especially complex, when after enduring strenuous repetition a piece tastes a bit of perfection, all the pit rejoices, excited to seize the whole pie – or as much of πr2 as it can – by show time.
And this show involves much work and many people. Big Fish demands the largest cast a Sock ‘n’ Buskin musical has needed in years (more than 35 actors, whereas last year’s Songs for a New World called for only 12, and Into the Woods of 2014 only 15). The pit is also large, including keyboards, strings, winds, and all sorts of percussion. One song even calls for the clinking of “glasses”. And with the grandness and complexity of the envisioned set, the crew will need many hardworking heads and hands as well.
To Sandy Chantry, seasoned director of Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s shows, Big Fish is “a big deal” because North is the first high school in the area to perform it. “It’s funny, but also really moving,” she comments on the show. Mrs. Chantry is confident that people will enjoy this “dramedy” – a satisfying combination of the serious and sentimental with the quirky and comedic.
There’s nothing fishy about it: Big Fish is a big show. Its fantasy mesmerizes the young-at-heart, and its psychological aspect takes us all to a better understanding of our own lives. Stories of the whim and tales of the self are not to be abandoned, at any age.
So come to one of the performances here at CR North, on April 28, 29, and 30 at 7:30 p.m., and on May 1 at 2:00 p.m. Support the arts in our school, and continue the narrative fabric of the ages.
For stories are what tie separate lives together, aren’t they?
By Maithri Nimmagadda
As I watched North’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, I was quite simply blown away and for good reason.
According to James Topham’s review of the play, “The Importance of Being Earnest combines a labyrinthine plot…and some of the most comic and wittiest lines ever written.”
The play, written by Oscar Wilde, is a brilliant, funny satire with a strong message of how frivolous the rich of the Victorian society are. The play’s main characters are John (Jack) Worthing, Algernon “Algy” Moncrieff, Gwendolen Fairfax, and Cecily Cardew. The play opens up with Jack and Algernon, and the scene reveals that Jack comes to socialize on the pretext that he is visiting his scandalous “brother” Earnest. He then uses the name Earnest as his when he’s in the city.
The viewers also learn that both Jack and Algernon are rich (hence the mockery of Victorian society), which helps Algernon afford all the cucumber sandwiches he consumes. The two also talk about Jack’s fancying of Gwendolen, who turns out to be Algy’s cousin and who is only willing to marry Jack because she thinks his name is Earnest. Algernon soon learns that Jack is a guardian to a girl named Cecil Cardew back in the city; he is intrigued by this girl and goes to the country posing as Earnest and from this a twisting plot continues.
The cast of the play was talented, and acted so that the messages and morals of The Importance of Being Earnest were preserved, but still kept a light, witty, funny, and quick-paced air that left the audience to roll in laughter.
The stage and props were professional and brought true life to the play with built wooden structures, high details like curtains, and real food like cucumber sandwiches. A clear effort was shown to show changes in scenery and made me feel as if I were standing and watching the story in real life. The outfits were historically accurate and were occasionally so grand (ahem, ahem Gwendolen’s dress) that they brought more life and humor to the play. Thus, not only was the choice of play intriguing, capturing, and witty, but also the effort put in by Sock ‘n’ Buskin made the viewing of The Importance of Being Earnest memorable.