Sherwood High School readies 40th Rock n' Roll Revival'
Director Gene Orndorff to exit stage after 30 years
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The singers are on-key; the dancers are hitting their steps; the music is tight and in sync.
If only the 245-member cast could get their stage cues right.
"Late, late, late! What are they thinking about?"said director Gene Orndorff, as soloist Alex Lindsay rushes on stage behind schedule to begin her rendition of the Patti Smith Group's 1978 hit "Because the Night."
With less than a week until opening night, the students and staff at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring are putting the finishing touches on the annual production, a musical revue featuring performances of rock and pop music everything from The Beatles and Elvis Presley to Madonna and Gloria Estefan.
This year's production of "Rock n' Roll Revival" marks two important milestones for Sherwood. Not only is it the 40th anniversary of the show, but it also is the 30th and final production for physical education teacher Orndorff, who will retire after this school year.
Orndorff shrugged off his retirement, but as the show's longtime director and scenic designer, he will leave a void next year that will be hard to fill, students and alumni said.
Hector Morales Jr., the show's assistant choreographer and a Sherwood Class of 1992 alumnus, appeared in the school's 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st productions of "Rock n' Roll Revival." He has worked on the show with Orndorff and Orndorff's daughter, choreographer Laura Portwood, for more than 10 years.
"It'll be different not having his presence," Morales said. "I don't know of anyone that puts in as much time as Gene puts into the show. People don't realize that."
Like Morales, Shawn Hillman, a Sherwood Class of 1990 alumnus, can't shake "Rock n' Roll Revival." For years, Hillman has visited the school during rehearsals to mentor some of the singers. He lives in Gaithersburg, where he sings in a band called Station 1201.
He performed in the show's 17th, 18th and 19th productions.
"These guys are my inspiration," Hillman said. "Once you're in Rock n' Roll Revival,' it's a fraternity. I was here, and it's great to have someone older in the wing."
Milestones and all, there will be nothing different about the 40th anniversary production, Orndorff said. Aside from some song changes from year to year, the production remains the same since 1972, when a group of the school's yearbook students and their staff adviser brought the show to Sherwood after witnessing a production of it in New York City, Orndorff said.
The production does not feature a plot or characters just singing, music and dancing.
"The authenticity, the costumes, the sets ... it's Rock n' Roll,'" said senior Brian Duffy, who will appear in his fourth and final production this year. "I'm going to miss it. I made a lot of friends through Rock n' Roll Revival.'"
If you go
Performances of "Rock n' Roll Revival" will take place at 7:30 p.m. March 4, 5, 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. March 6 and 13 at the Ertzman Theater inside Sherwood High School, 300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring.
For ticket information, call the school's choral music department at 301-924-3246.
To order tickets by mail, print and fill out an order form off the school's website, www.sherwoodhs.org, and mail it to "Rock n' Roll Tickets," Sherwood High School, 300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860. Tickets are $15.
By the numbers
-Students in the show: 245
-Lead singers: 30 to 34
-Student directors: 3
-Student musical directors: 6
-Students that auditioned: 325
Parent volunteers: 50
-Songs in the production: 39