Maple Hills Elementary School musical pays homage to rock

June 12, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Lacey Williams, Drew Cain, Bailee Hawkins and Aden Bryan (from left) rock out on stage June 7 during Maple Hills Elementary School’s fifth-grade musical ‘Rock and Roll Forever.’ Photo by Lillian Tucker

To celebrate the end of the year, fifth-graders at Maple Hills Elementary School did what many of them enjoy most — performing.

“I love entertaining people,” Andrew Intonti said.

Fitted in a leather jacket and white T-shirt, the elementary school student portrayed Little Richard in the fifth-grade musical “Rock and Roll Forever.” Dipping back into the golden oldies decade, Maple Hills’ 67 fifth-grade students sang and danced their way through the 30-minute production. The June 7 show at the school included classic hits like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Tutti Frutti.”

“Performing is something they love to do,” music teacher Catherin Justle said. “When they are in here (the auditorium) they get excited.”

This same group of students has been taking part in an annual musical since kindergarten. However, this was the first year they had spoken lines. The new addition proved to be very popular among the young thespians.

“I thought it would be fun to have lots of speaking parts and stand out in the music,” said Andrew, who volunteered for the roles of Little Richard.

Another new addition this year was choreography.

“It was fun because we got to dance and we’ve never got to dance in a musical before,” said Bailee Hawkins, whose role included speaking about Elvis and squealing at pop stars like The Beatles. “I was worried I’d forget my part but when I said it, I wasn’t nervous.”

Both Bailee and her friend Lacey Williams, who also had a speaking role, said they hoped to continue to be involved in theater.

“It’s just fun to say it in front of the whole school,” Lacey said. “I practiced a lot.”

Rehearsals for the production began at the end of April. From that point on, Justle used her twice-weekly 30-minute lessons with the students to teach them the show’s music, choreography and theatrics.

“That’s a testament to how hard these students’ work – to present a musical of this quality in a short amount of time,” Justle said. “The students worked really hard with putting in the effort to do a great job in presenting their musical performance.”

Before they started work on the musical, the fifth-grade class spent the majority of the year focusing on the state standards for musical education, Justle said. In one unit, they learned to play the piano keyboard. In another, they studied composition and worked to write their own piece of music.

The musical, Justle said, gave students the opportunity to learn lessons in drama and vocal-tone production.

“The best part,” she said, “is seeing the success in the students’ performance and seeing how much they enjoy it.”

Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242, or Comment at

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