Churchill junior Kimberly Murphy was performing in Branson, Mo. two weeks ago, but her roles in “Blast from the Past” never left her mind. Murphy performs for Simply Irresistible, a show choir at Churchill that competed in the Branson Cup April 3-4.
“The whole time we were there, we were thinking about ‘Blast,’ Murphy said. “We were looking at the choreography and comparing it to the way we did it.”
Murphy is back, along with more than 100 Churchill students who will perform in the school’s annual “Blast from the Past” music revue.
“Blast” customarily includes songs from all points in the rock-and-roll era, and this year’s performance is no exception – it’s just widening the scope. “We’re taking it back a lot further than Motown or oldies. … We’re actually doing jazz,” said senior Stacey Black, who has been singing jazz numbers since her sophomore year.
Churchill students expand their musical horizons, as the setlist of a “Blast” revue exposes them to songs from well before their radio-listening days. One such song is the ‘80s hit “Dinosaur Walk” by Was (Not Was), part of this year’s “Prehistoric Set.” “Nobody else had heard of it before, said senior Jennifer Murphy, who has a solo in the song. “It’s very interesting costumes, and very funny.”
SOPHOMORE JON APRIL dances in several “Blast” numbers. “I’ve wanted to be a part of it since I was in middle school,” said April. “I went to Hoover, and every year, before ‘Blast,’ they’d bring everyone over to Hoover and perform two or three songs.”
“Blast” is known outside the schools among the greater community, another reason why Churchill students are so eager to take part in it each year.
“If you live in the community, you know ‘Blast.’ People will talk about it no matter what time of year it is,” said senior Stacey Black, who sings solo on “Sentimental Journey.” “Even months after the show, people come up to you in CVS and compliment you.”
LAURA HOUSEHOLDER performed in the Bullis cafeteria as a freshman in Bullis’ “Curtains Up!” revue. Now a senior, Householder is one of six seniors in the seventh-ever “Curtains Up!” which has grown from a cast of seven students in 1998 to a cast of more than 40 this year.
For Householder, performing “A New World” is especially meaningful. She and five classmates will perform the song together. “It’s just a beautiful song,” she said, and it’s appropriate for a group of seniors who have evolved from the cafeteria production to the shows at Bullis’ state-of-the-art Blair Center. “People are excited for ‘Curtains Up!’ this year, because they know that this program is going up to an entirely new level.”
“In my opinion, it’s been getting progressively better every year,” agreed senior Adam Fryer, who did lights work in the three previous “Curtains Up!” productions.
Bullis music teacher Cindy Beck started “Curtains Up!” in 1998, her first year after moving from Illinois. She was originally unaware of “Blast,” but thought a revue would help recruit Bullis students to a music program she was trying to overhaul.
“Blast from the Past” and “Curtains Up!” will overlap on three nights. “They’re aware of us; we’re aware of them,” Beck said.
BULLIS SENIOR CHRIS MEHRLING is happy about the wider talent pool this year, as well as the song selection. “I think this year’s is probably going to be the best one,” he said. “The music this year is really good – there are no bad, cast-hated songs.”
Instead, Bullis students perform from a setlist consisting of songs from Broadway musicals or movie soundtracks, ranging from the 1920s to the present day. Choreographer Kevin Witcher, who worked with Bullis’ production of “Crazy for You” this year, is also choreographing “Curtains Up!”
“Mr. Witcher brought a whole new level to this program,” Householder said. “None of us danced before our freshman year; now we’re doing things none of us could have imagined we could do.”