‘Rockin’ in the Knox
Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 13:03
Present-day community members found themselves on a journey into the 1960s as student-performers crooned and impressed spectators with an exciting, dazzling play.
For four nights at the Knox Center last week, the hour-long musical "Rockin' at Richmond High, 1966" mesmerized audience members with a plethora of emotions and songs.
The majority of the musical is set in 1966, and fortunately the characters and their costumes effectively brought the era to life for everyone during the brief play.
The play begins in 2011 with Odetta Jones, played by Bettye Davis, narrating her experiences as a counselor at Richmond High School and being the first African-American woman to become a radio personality during her acceptance speech for a prestigious award.
The constant shifting from 1966 to the present throughout the musical was executed perfectly.
The performance touched on the many issues of the '60s, including the Vietnam War draft and the stagnant air of racial discrimination that lingered even in a diverse community like Richmond.
Aside from the modern-day Jones' stumbling over a few lines, all the actors gave exceptional performances.
The musical numbers were amusing and the choreography did not disappoint as it depicted what would have been seen more than 45 years ago.
Jacob Manibusan delivered an amazing portrayal as a young man named Rocko Romero. His dynamic character is young and in love with his sweetheart Pinky, played by Zadia Saunders.
He is unfortunately called upon to serve his country with his classmate 3D, played by Malcolm X. Mitchell.
When the students' senior year ends, the couple and the rest of their good friends can only keep in contact through mailed letters.
Director and drama department Chair-person Clay David created scenes where the actors say out loud what they wrote in their letters. This detail was quite realistic and displayed the tension and emotions many faced in those rough times.
"Rockin' at Richmond High, 1966" concluded with a heart-warming and spectacular ending. David appears as a pastor marrying Rocko and Pinky, and then the entire cast belts out a song and begins to dance, giving the audience one last look at the actors' hard work and efforts.