Caroline Tseng’s obsession with “Blast from the Past” began three years ago, when she performed in a bowling outfit as a backup singer. She’s now a senior with a pair of lead performances, rounding out the four-year “Blast” plan, and one of the show’s many performers who can relate to this year’s “Obsessions” theme.
“It kind of looks at every person’s craziness,” Tseng said. “When you love something, it turns into an obsession, just like this show itself. … You love it and you hate it at the same time.”
Senior Casey Rubinoff became obsessed with “Blast” as an elementary school student when she went to see the high schoolers perform. “What do you know better than what you’re obsessed with?” said Rubinoff. “I remember going to ‘Blast’ and thinking, ‘Oh my God, I have to do that,’”
Rubinoff has spent late winter and early spring preparing for the show. “The people in it love to sing, and love to dance,” said Rubinoff. “It’s going to be real hard next year, not staying at rehearsal until 10, and talking with my friends.”
“Blast,” Churchill’s annual music and dance revue, runs at Churchill on April 8, 9, 15 and 16. “A lot of schools have strong choral departments or theater departments, or even strong dance departments. We’ve been able to put them all together in ‘Blast,’” said Rubinoff.
PAUL PENCZNER THINKS a little clarification is in order. “Blast” is customarily described as a rock-and-roll music and dance revue, but Penczner says it’s not that simple. “I’ve been doing it for four years, but I can’t tell you what it is,” he said. “I guess you’ve got to see it.”
Despite its title, many of the songs aren’t from the past — “Lady” by Lenny Kravitz is one of the 21st century songs Churchill students will perform. Penczner says the show would be more accurately dubbed “Blast of All Musical Genres from the American 1950s to the Present Day, But Definitely Not Including Rap Music.”
“It’s really like MTV without the sexually explicit stuff,” said Tseng.
SONGS ON THE SETLIST mostly fall under one of the “Obsession” categories, themes like Food, Love, Money or Paradise chosen by fourth-year director Carlos Barillo.
The Paradise theme is an opportunity for colorful scenery and costumes. Churchill’s jazz band will perform in some of the “Paradise” numbers, like “Girl From Ipanema.” Senior Casey Rubinoff thinks this set will turn heads, especially a performance of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”
“Within this song, it’s a whole story,” said Rubinoff. “We have Lola and the showgirls, and Rico. You have this epic love story, from beginning to end.”
“They have a lot of bright colors that make me feel like I’m at the beach,” said Tseng.
Food is another obsession theme in “Blast,” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is right at the intersection of food and paradise cravings. Penczner will play acoustic guitar in “Cheeseburger,” his first guitar performance at Churchill since freshman year, when he performed Extreme’s early ‘90s power ballad “More Than Words."
Recent “Blast” productions have paid tribute to a pop diva like Cher or Madonna, and Donna Summer is the ‘05 diva; students will perform “Enough Is Enough,” “Con te Partiro” or “Heaven Knows.”
Tseng has no regrets about her four-year obsession. Showtime makes all the hours of preparation worthwhile, she said. “When you’re on stage, it’s the best feeling ever.”
Carlos Barillo, director of Churchill’s “Blast from the Past” revue, chose “Obsessions” as this year’s “Blast” theme. “He kind of picked out the major human obsessions,” said Casey Rubinoff, a Churchill senior and student choreographer for the performance.
* Money — “Taking Care of Business”
* Youth — “Runaway Sue”
* Love — “Cruel Summer,” “I Will Survive,” “Take on Me”
* Paradise — “Girl from Ipanema,” “Copa Cabana”
* Food — “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Candy Girl”
* Beauty — “Supermodel,” “Lady,” “Natural Woman”