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Apathetic Chorus

After the horrible debacle of the Christmas production the school was putting on another production in the spring of 1995. Another mandatory fifth through eighth grade production, this one was about the history of Rock N Roll.

 The show was pretty much the fine arts history of rock class my fifth grade teacher taught turned into a school production. I remember the class she taught. Back then before the school production I knew it was highly inaccurate. I remember her being surprised when nobody in the rock class had ever heard of the song “Cool Places” by Sparks when she talked about the song she nostalgically reminisced about it. Before taking her class I had never heard that song in my life. Is that an obscure song? When she gave us a test for the rock class she wrote one of the stupidest test questions ever from “Ms. (her name) is the coolest teacher because she gives easy test questions”. I was feeling cheeky so I wrote back “trick question”. She tried to play up her youth to us kids to make it seem like she was cool, hip, trendy and youthful. Most kids were fooled, but I wasn’t. Being hip doesn’t make you a good teacher, and a she was a really horrible teacher in so many ways.

Everything was there from referencing the movie Swing Kids to the song “Cool Places”. The teacher used a movie from 1993. My teacher figured out how to work the song into the program. It was used for the 1980s dance number. They ended up using a recycled number from the school talent show. The performance of “Tears on My Pillow”. The show was pretty formulaic. There would either be a dance number about the decade mentioned or a fact about the musician mentioned.

This production had a definite pecking order and the teachers made you know it! The top of the food chain was the actors who were a group of about forty students.  The next highest group was the dancers who were made up of about sixty students. The lowest in the order and largest group which I belonged to was the chorus which was really code for “a dumping ground for all the leftover students”. I wanted more than anything to not be in the chorus. The group was filled with slackers, gangsters, and generally kids who really didn’t care about school. We were so rowdy it took three teachers to control us. There was one teacher who supervised the actors and two teachers who taught the dancers. There was one kid who didn’t have to be in the production at all. He was the best artist the school had at the time so he was responsible for making the decorative posters for the production. If I would have attempted to draw the Ed Sullivan appearance of the Beatles it would have looked like generic cartoon men with bowl cuts. It was times like that I wished I was a better artist, but then people would probably want to use my artistic talents to draw realistic looking people for them. The teachers seemed to cast the popular kids for the acting roles. They had a hard time casting people because of the high concentration of Latino students. I think the hardest group to cast was the Beach Boys. They wanted blond people. Another problem is that there was a lack of props. They needed a lot of guitars.

Being in the chorus was hard. Sure I didn’t have to lip-synch a song or learn some dance moves, but the teachers seemed to be harder on us than the other groups. They would constantly get mad at us for singing poorly and not singing loud enough. What did they expect? We were a group of leftover students.

“Stayin Alive” was probably the hardest song to sing.  The teachers would get mad at us because we didn't or couldn't sing falsetto. I think who ever transcribed the lyrics transcribed them wrong. We sang "The New York Times, a paper man". The real lyric is "The New York Times' effect on man." Eventually it was cut from the program.

I even helped write some of the program by a fluke chance. One day as I was leaving from practice the teachers were trying to write about Kris Kross. They wanted know to the origin story of why they wore their clothes backwards. I was a huge Kris Kross fan back then so I knew the story. I told it to them and they put it in the play! They didn’t even fact check it! (I should have gotten a writing credit for that!)

I wanted to be a Queen rocker. This was also a last minute added thing. They wanted people to stomp and clap to “We Will Rock You”. So I “auditioned” with a bunch of other kids longing to get out of the chorus. When I auditioned with the other kids the teachers got mad at me because I was not stomping right. I was stomping poorly because I had recently sprained my ankle and was on the mend.  

We all had to make our own costumes. We could dress in any costume from the 1940-1980s (no 1990s) I made a hippie costume. I used an ugly rainbow tie dye shirt I had gotten for my birthday. It was so hippie! I also wore some faded jeans (not bellbottoms), a beaded necklace, and an old elastic hair band my mom sewed fake daises onto that we found in our house. My boots ended up looking authentic. I just wore the boots I regularly wore to school. They said they looked like desert boots. They were just some beat up boots. The only reason I had boots like that was because they looked like the boots Kimberly wore on Power Rangers.


Look at this program for the show made with computer clip art. The program has mistakes in it. For example, 50's swing? “Jump” by Kris Kross is a techno song? I removed the students’ names.

The actual production went pretty smoothly. There were not a lot of problems with it like the Christmas show.

I figured if I showed an interest in acting I would not get a bad part in the next mandatory school play.


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pikachulover Posted on Mar 17, 2015 at 04:25 PM

I didn't really beg to leave. Once you were in the group you were pretty much stuck in it.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 17, 2015 at 07:38 AM

You would think that if a student was actively begging to be in one of the other groups, that those in charge would see that said student was deserving of more than just being lumped in with the slackers, trouble makers, etc. in the chorus. Apparently not though.

pikachulover Posted on Mar 17, 2015 at 06:06 AM

I was always copying something from Kimberly's outfits from Power Rangers. She was the stylish one.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Mar 17, 2015 at 04:39 AM

I totally know the Kimberly boots you were talking about. Your teacher may not have been hip, but at least she wasn't ancient, trying to tie in some contemporary themes.

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