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Mash-up in Memphis is a Tribute to Rock History!


On May 23 and 24, 82 fifth graders presented their last program at Wescott School. Titled, Mash-Up in Memphis, the musical was a tribute to the last 60 years of Rock and Roll music. The show begins with students at a gathering in Memphis, Tennessee, the birthplace of rock and roll. There is a "Grammy Awards" celebration of current pop music hosted by a student portraying Ryan Seacrest. This sequence featured pupils acting as performers such as Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Adele, and others. The proceedings are interrupted by the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley (Nick Polak), who informs the young artists that they are only part of a long continuum of talented and artists, dating all the way back to "Rocket '88", the song many musicologists identify as the first rock and roll song.

He introduced Dick Clark (Julia Velasquez) of American Bandstand and Don Cornelius (Christopher Karasinski) of Soul Train to continue the festivities. Then there was a celebration of songs representing many of rock's great eras with student portrayals of the following musicians: The Fifties (Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis); the Sixties (The 4 Seasons, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees); a special tribute to The Beatles; the music of Motown (The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson); Disco (The Bee Gees), and The Eighties (Journey, U2, Whitney Houston, and Madonna).

Some of these classic songs were "mashed-up" with current songs, creating a bond of mutual respect between the past and present, according to music teacher Bill Vaananen, who wrote and directed the show. Fifth graders who helped coordinate the program included Whitney Doyle, Jennifer Murnick, Martine Ross, and Sammi Lipkin. Art teacher Tia Stevens videotaped the show, and Joan Marsh created the backdrop scenery.

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