Don’t stop believing in jukebox heroes.
The creative duo of Grace McCune and Jake Perrine is presenting a 1980s extravaganza with a cast of nearly 100 islanders.
“The delight of this process is listening to music I haven’t heard in years, and remembering that time of my life,” said McCune.
The Rock on the Rock choirs, dancers and musicians will bring down the house for two weekends: May 11-13 and 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students. On Saturday, May 13, at the New Leaf Cafe, you can have both dinner and a show for $60. Chef Steve Debaste has created a special menu featuring seasonal local cuisine for the dinner in the Outlook Inn’s Victorian Room.
As in previous years, the shows are a benefit for Orcas Center. This is the fourth annual fundraiser McCune and Perrine have organized for the center; previous shows were “Moulin Rouge,” “Across the Universe” and “On This Island.” Every show has sold out.
“We proved you can put on something huge without a big budget and also make money for the center,” said Perrine. “When you have a huge cast in the show, you get thousands of people through the center doors.”
The two were inspired by the movie “Rock of Ages” but the production has evolved into entirely its own show. Prior to rehearsals starting in February, a list of 100 songs was posted on Facebook to gauge interest. After participants weighed in on their favorite tunes, McCune and Perrine chose numbers based on choir and solo accessibility and staging opportunities. Music for the show ranges from iconic (Prince, George Michael, Queen) to classic (Journey, Pat Benatar) to ridiculous (Foreigner, Motley Crue, White Snake).
“Like ‘Across the Universe’ was nostalgic for many people, the 1980s touched our generation and we felt that music defined us at the time,” said McCune.
“Rock of Orcas” is comprised of three choirs, Rock on the Rock (adults), Tubular Tweens and Rockin’ Moppets (kids), and many choir members are performing solos.
On Friday, May 12, Perrine and McCune will be interviewed about the show by classic rock station KISM radio live from Rosario Resort.
Accompanying 90 percent of the songs is a full band led by local drummer Jeffrey Horton and featuring musicians Melody Funk, Gene Nery, Lek Thixton, John Coffelt, Kim Thomas and Megan Stocklin.
Horton says he is looking forward to sharing the stage with “talented musicians and singers and bringing some rock to Orcas.”
By cutting down the length of songs and creating “mash-up” arrangements, McCune was able to include a long list of numbers. She also wrote her own harmony arrangements for the choral pieces.
“The 1980s is when rock music lost its innocence,” said Perrine. “Corporations discovered how much money could be made. As soon as MTV dropped, the music of the 1980s was pervasive in a way that no other generation of music was … at the time, everyone took this music very seriously. But in the rearview mirror, you have to look at it with comedy glasses.”
Choreographer Tiffany Loney has created high energy dance pieces for her adult and kid classes.
“The style of dance and music from the 1980s is pretty eclectic so we have a variety – classic jazz, hip hop,” she said. “One thing that has struck me is that when you coach people and say ‘we are doing 80s classic rock,’ they say ‘Oh, I hate 80s music’ but then you play it and they break out into nostalgic song and dance. They love it.”
Loney says adding movement to “Rock of Orcas” is a natural complement to the singers.
“You need to see bodies moving and grooving to this music,” she said. “It’s only going to enhance the show – the music is a backbone and then you have a visual feast. I can’t imagine the show without dance.”
From the costumes to the attitudes, comedy is a major part of the production. It’s set up so audience members feel like they are at a rock concert complete with t-shirts, hats and glow sticks. Those in attendance are asked to dress in their most outrageous 1980s garb; there will be prizes for best dressed.
“This show is the perfect mixture of nostalgia and comedy,” said McCune.
‘Rock of Orcas’ cast list
Rock on The Rock Choir
Grace McCune, Jake Perrine, Charlie Eon, Elysse Lightpool, Marj Franke, Khadoma Colomby, Nancy Blystone, Mandi Johnson, Pam Evans, Heather Dew Oaksen, Mindy Sonshine, Emily Abdon, Erin Bennett, Kayleigh Horton, Emily McGerty, Susie Shipman, Gene Nery, Melody Funk, Lek Thixton, Jeffrey Horton, Kim Thomas, Johnny Coffelt, Tom Rawson, Heather Kathryne, Kaleena McGarry, Shawn McGarry, Stormy Hildreth, Chantelle Hildreth, Erin Hickey, Amanda Sparks, Tish Knapp, Katie Wlaysewski, Deborah Sparks, Maggie Thomas, Kelly Toombs, Maggie Toombs, Cali Bagby, Colleen Smith Armstrong, Ed Lago, Alanna Lago, Greg Ripley, Christa Smith, Ruthanne Comrie, Gabi Carver, Eliza Morris, Linnea Morris, Sky Weaver, Carla Weston, Adia Dolan, Clark Cundy, Enzo Thixton, Asifa Pasin and Kellen Comrie.
Tubular Tweens choir
Gray Gailey, Krystal Luchterhand, Ella Weaver, Remy Lago, Olivia Morris, Celia Groeninger, Eve Eon, Myla Ross, Trinity Wood, Karis Comrie, Malia Martinolich, Rhya Segault, Star Sanders and Lula Segault.
Rockin’ Moppet choir
Madeleine Connell, Chase Connell, Seffa Jane Halabisky, Scarlet Luft, Katiyanna McGarry, Lucia Weaver, Grace Zwilling, Serafina Buck, Angelina Riddle, Cole Ludwig, Nootka Townsend, Ravevah Casaday, Viviane Casaday, Ava Dahl, Zade Pechacek and Avery Solesbee.
Rockettes on the Rock
Emily McGerty, Laine Pechacek, Andrea Wammack, Stephanie Iverson, Asifa Welch, Cali Bagby, Amanda Sparks, Alanna Lago, Kelly Toombs, Mindy Sonshine, Tiffany Loney, Colleen Armstrong, Janice Williams and Katie Zwilling.
Top Pop Dancers
Nisha Woolworth, Miette Woolworth, Solianna Halabisky, Seffa Halabisky, Chase Connell, Madeleine Connell, Ava Dahl, Lucia Weaver, Ella Weaver, Celia Groeninger, Moose Kinsey, Lael Watson, Juliette McKenney, Rhya Segault and Gray Gailey.
Deborah Sparks, Kaleena McGarry and Colleen Smith Armstrong, admin crew; Regina Zwilling, stage manager; Kevin Colomby, sound, Susie Shipman, costume help; Robert Hall, lighting design and operator; Libi Geddes on lights, backstage help is Keri Lago and Maelle Comrie.