When Tim Wuth heard the song ‘Better When I’m Dancing’ he knew he had to use it in his next school musical. It’s about confidence and releasing your insecurities on the dance floor.
“I seem to always have ideas bouncing around in my head for another musical but they don’t always work out. This was supposed to be the musical for last year but because of Covid-19 we couldn’t do one so we are doing it this year,” he said. The directors and actors have been working on the project for the past nine weeks.
At last Friday’s dress rehearsal Wuth photographed each member of the cast of almost 30 Lovelock Elementary School students. They wore full costumes, including bushy mustaches, bow ties, suspenders, canes and shawls. In less than a week they’d perform for a full house in the high school auditorium.
Sandy Condie, Jennifer Fecht, Amanda Gonzalez and Whitney Phillips reminded ‘Grandpa Jethro’ to look grumpy. Emilee Houston sprayed the cast’s hair with a silvery mist.
Fecht slipped away for a moment to check on the baseball tournament. She reappeared with signs reminding the actors to ‘slow down,’ ‘smile,’ or get ‘louder,’ flashing them as needed throughout the rehearsal.
The evening’s program explains the plot. “It’s grandkids day at the senior center...and we’re making some rocking chairs rock. So sit back and enjoy some old time rock and roll.” Half of the cast plays the seniors. Most of the others are their grandchildren. There’s also an activities director (Charlee Sestanavich) and a cook (Lily Reynolds).
Condie, Fecht, Gonzalez, Philips and PCHS student Hannah Gonzalez choreographed 11 song and dance routines that dovetail with the story like a sock fits a hop.
Wuth began directing the school musicals 13 years ago. ‘Rocking Chair Rock’ is his twelfth because the pandemic scrapped last year’s show. Besides ‘Rocking Chair Rock,’ Wuth wrote City Park (2016) and Haunted Schoolhouse (2020).
A few years ago Wuth’s brother, David, approached him with the idea for a musical based on the Orphan Train movement of the 1800s and early 1900s. He had the basic outline with about half the songs. The brothers teamed up to brainstorm the rest.
Fallon friend Noreen Swanson wrote the script, blending the music with true stories of children who rode the orphan train. It all came together for the 2019 LES musical.
“If I had to choose just one of the 12 musicals to do again, I would choose Orphan Train the Musical,” said Wuth.“It made people aware of a part of our country’s history that many people don’t even know happened. It was an emotional musical, bringing the audience to tears every performance.”
There won’t be any tears this Thursday or Friday night unless they’re tears of joy. ‘Rocking Chair Rock’ is energetic and funny. From the moment Grandma Gertrude whacks Wuth with her purse the comedy begins. Even Grandpa Jethro eventually overcomes his grumpiness and hits the dance floor with his sweetheart.
‘Rocking Chair Rock’ will be Wuth’s last LES play. He retires at the end of this school year after 27 years of service.
“As for future musicals that will be up to the other directors. I might be persuaded to help some but that will depend on which direction my retirement takes,” he said.
Here’s hoping it’s a long and happy one. Thanks for all the school plays.