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Dancing Through Decades is a ‘Blast’

Churchill’s ‘Blast’ revue to give a musical tour of a variety of genres and time periods.

Tanya Gellman and Michael Hartman returned from their spring break vacations just in time for another trip. Fresh off of whirlwind tours of Japan and Italy, respectively, the two Winston Churchill High School Students are set to travel through four decades of music and dance in their school’s annual “Blast” revue.

Gellman and Hartman, along with the rest members of Winston Churchill High School’s “Blast” are in the final throes of preparation for the school’s annual rock and roll musical review that begins Friday, April 13.

Musically, they’ll travel from jazz to country to R&B to rock. But Hartman said that after the conceptual themes of recent ‘Blast’ productions, they’re going back to the show’s roots, back when it was called “Blast from the Past.”

“This year I think is a little more like the older Blasts in the sense that there’s a lot more time-diversity in this show,” said Hartman.

THE THEME of the annual show varies from one year to the next, and this year’s is “Decadance,” and will feature song and dance from the last four decades. Selections will span genres as well, from Ella Fitzgerald’s jazz compositions to the country swing of Garth Brooks.

“Because the theme is ‘Decadance,’ [this year’s show] is more dance-oriented,” said Gelman. In addition to being one of the singing leads, Gellman is also serving as the company manager, one of several students juggling performing and managing roles.

Gelman’s job is to serve as a go-between from the cast to Carlos Barillo, the show’s director and a choral teacher at the school.

“The hardest part about the show … is just managing 120 kids, learning your own part, and doing all your other school work too,” said Hartman, who is one of three student vocal directors. Hartman, a junior, helped teach background singers their parts.

“I listened to the recordings and wrote out the vocal parts,” said Hartman. “You have to make the vocals kind of string together.”

While addressing concerns of her fellow singers, Gellman prepared for her lead roles singing Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” and The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” The part she is most excited about is a tap-dance performance of Ella Fitzgerald’s “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

“What’s cool about it is it’s a song you wouldn’t expect to be tapped to because it’s very jazzy,” Gellman said.

MOST OF THE PERFORMERS have taken part in “Blast” before, said Jessica Dalrymple, a Churchill senior. “I’ve done ‘Blast’ all four years,” she said. “This year is probably one of the more fun years because I’m really comfortable with everyone.”

Gellman has also participated in “Blast” in each of her four years at Churchill, as well as a variety of other Churchill drama productions.

Dalrymple expects an oldie and a goodie. “Since it’s the last one [for the seniors], its going to be really sentimental,” she said. “It’s going to be sad on closing night, but it’s going to be a lot of fun too.”

“TECH WEEK IS rigorous,” said Dalrymple, referring to the week leading up to the show is the homestretch of preparation. The students work from 2:30 p.m. until sometimes as late as 10 p.m. every day during the final week as they run through the entire program time and again to make sure everything is right, Dalrymple said.

Montgomery County Schools returned from Spring Break on Tuesday, April 10, leaving the Blast members only four days to make sure everything is ready to go for their show.

While most of the cast was scattered to various locales for their week-long vacation, others were not. Some of the backup singers got together during spring break, and the stage crew worked during the entire vacation, said Dalrymple.

“We’ve been rehearsing since January, so we should be okay,” Dalrymple said.