An eagerly awaited high note of each school year at Chantilly High is its musical-entertainment production extraordinaire, Jazz and Pizzazz. And this year's 19th annual event promises to be as full of fire and energy as ever.
"IT GIVES these super-talented kids a chance to display for the community what they can do," said Band Director Keith Taylor. "It's the culminating event of their high school career. They make great music and have great showmanship."
"It's not like a high-school performance," added Choral Director Glenn Cockrell. "It's more like a Broadway revue or a Las Vegas show."
Featuring some 30 members of the Chantilly Jazz Combo and Chantilly Jazz, plus 32 member of the Touch of Class Show Choir, the show will burst upon the stage, Wednesday-Saturday, May 25-28, at 7 p.m. each night.
The $9 tickets are on sale now from the performing students and are available May 19-23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the school cafeteria and office. For more information, call 703-222-8180.
All genres of music will be performed during this two-hour show. "There's everything from Frank Sinatra and Harry James to Chuck Mangione, Chicago — both the band and the musical, jazz, country, pop, rock, Latin samba, Broadway, patriotic songs and funk," said Taylor.
"There's something for all ages and musical tastes," said Cockrell. "And there's audience participation in a classic, 'Animal House' type number." The show also spotlights seniors performing solos.
"SOME OF the Show Choir and Jazz Combo pieces are from their competition show in April which had a New York/Chicago theme," he said. "Numbers include 'New York, New York,' songs from the musical 'Chicago,' such as 'All That Jazz,' plus 'Sweet Home Chicago,' 'Autumn in New York,' and tunes by the group Chicago, like 'Saturday in the Park.'"
The audience will also recognize music from movies such as "Fame," the Disney movie "The Newsies" and "Phantom of the Opera" — including the title tune and "Think of Me." And the tune, "You Made Me Love You," was used in the movies, "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Hannah and Her Sisters."
"The amount of work the students have put in is amazing," said Taylor. "They're also spending a lot of hours polishing their solos." It's a two-hour show and, he said, "The first act, alone, probably has 15 minutes of nonstop, get-up-and-go, seamless performances — fast, slow, Latin, rock, solos, etc."
"And it's tailor-made for the community — designed with music appealing to them," said Cockrell. "The feedback we get is that it's of a quality that they bring their friends to."
"A lot of the alumni come back, including George Keim, who was the principal at Chantilly in the late '80s," said Taylor. "Lots of parents who don't have kids here anymore come to the show, as well as current and former teachers and students," added Cockrell. "I know people who have no connection with the show and drive 50-60 miles on an annual basis to see it. And if anyone hasn't seen it, now's the time."
Taylor said his band students play mostly professional music, so "the demand on them is extremely high." For example, the arrangement of "Orange-Colored Sky" they'll perform was created for Natalie Cole.
"Two of the pieces we're playing, 'Samba Del Gringo' and 'There's the Rub,' are from the CD of Gordon Goodwin — the hot big band now," said Taylor. "They'll also perform 'Nice 'N Juicy' and 'I Can't Get Started' by Maynard Ferguson, trumpet-player extraordinaire and inspirer of big-band jazz in the '60s, '70s and '80s. It's high-end stuff — it's amazing they can play it."
BESIDES THAT, said Cockrell, all the songs and dances in the show are fully choreographed. "It's not just a concert," he said. "And we bring in a lot of special lighting effects." Toward that end, Theater Director Ed Monk is in charge of the 10-member tech crew to help ensure that the technical aspects of the show are as classy and professional as the performers.
"A lot of the students in the show were inspired by Jazz and Pizzazz when they were in elementary school," said Taylor. "Or their siblings preceded them in it," said Cockrell. And, said Taylor, "They've waited this long to be in it."
Cockrell said most of the repertoire has been added since April. And unlike previous shows, it contains lots of music people haven't seen Chantilly perform this year.
"There's so much diversity and it covers such a wide range of musical styles," he said. "Some selections feature all girls or all boys, some are a-capella performances and some are only band or choir."
Taylor said his students were "feeling romantic this year" so they chose songs including "Georgia on My Mind." Whereas Cockrell's kids were in the mood for more fast-paced fare. "We have a bawdy, country-western tune called, 'Goodbye Earl,' by the Dixie Chicks and a couple solos from the musical 'Wicked,'" said Cockrell. "And there are some Billy Joel songs, 'Keepin' the Faith' and River of Dreams.'"
Both directors also praised the large group of parents who help make it all possible. They assist in getting the programs printed, help build the sets, organize uniforms and costumes and sell concessions. So, said Cockrell, "It's a family affair."
Show Choir member Katie Abernathy, 18, will sing "Popular" from "Wicked," and it'll be her first solo piece other than within a group song. "I'm really excited because I get a whole number to do by myself," she said. "It's really spunky and I like it a lot. It's got lots of character and gives me a chance to show off my dramatic flair."
HER FAVORITE number in the show is the closer, "Keepin' the Faith," because "the choreography is really fast and fun. It's a great way to end the show and is a song the audience will go home singing."
Senior Allison Picini will play alto, baritone and soprano sax, plus clarinet. She's featured on alto sax on "Georgia On My Mind and, she said, "I get to put a lot of style and soul into it." She says the whole show has tremendous energy: "We have a lot of fun and we convey that to the audience."
Senior Maggie Buckles is featured on her trumpet in the solo, "You Made Me Love You." She's both "nervous and excited" about it, but said its ranges fit her well: "It's easy for me to play but, stylewise, it gives me something to work with."
All in all, said Taylor, Jazz and Pizzazz is "a tradition of entertainment that people look forward to. They get to see the kids all dressed up, doing their thing and in a whole different light than normally."
He said Chantilly's Show Choir and band have played together numerous times for the school system's fine arts teachers at the beginning of the year. And that, said Cockrell, "speaks volumes for the quality of the show" the audience will see at this year's Jazz and Pizzazz.