Blast 24: American Bandstand opens this weekend at Winston Churchill High School! At long last, the many weeks of rehearsal, set construction and technical preparation will come to an end, and thousands of audience members will enjoy the show!
As opening night approaches, Carlos Barillo, show director and Churchill's choral teacher, reflected on his experience with Blast.
"This is my 14th year directing Blast," he said. "I am excited to bring American Bandstand to the stage to pay tribute to Dick Clark's vision."
More than 200 Churchill students will play their own roles in staging this remarkable production. Among them is senior Shannon Sweeney, a veteran performer in past Blast shows and Churchill choral groups.
As befitting this "backstage" series of interviews, Shannon told us that one of her favorite aspects of Blast is the backstage bustle. "It's always a lot of fun because it's so chaotic and there's so much energy and excitement," she said. "Of course," she continued with a smile, "it's also great actually going out and performing in front of everyone."
Recalling her four-year Blast career, Shannon says "it's kind of bittersweet. It's nice to look back and see how much everyone has progressed and I've progressed. I have such good memories, but it's sad to look back and think this is the last time I'll do anything like this."
This year, Shannon will be singing "Light my Fire" by the Doors as her solo.
"I was kind of surprised to get this song," she said. "It's not in my genre and it's out of my comfort zone. But at the same time it, challenges me as a performer to put my own twist on it and see what I can do."
Shannon also graciously gave a shout-out her back-up singers Sloane, Ellie and Elena saying, "they are awesome and I have total faith in them."
Remembering her freshman year in Blast and choral music, Shannon recalled "how close all the seniors were, how enthusiastic and talented they were, and how much I looked up to them." She says, "I was kind of intimidated by them and I hope we seniors are not intimidating now."
Anyone who knows Shannon will tell you she is anything but intimidating, but has been a true Blast leader and mentor to the younger performers. Not surprisingly, next year she wants to attend a college where she can continue singing and dancing along with her studies.
Please note: Tickets for this weekend's three shows can still be purchased online at wchsarts.com until 10pm Thursday evening. After that, readers are encouraged to purchase tickets at the box office beginning one hour before showtime. Tickets for next weekend's performances will remain available online until Thursday night, December 13.
Check out more articles on this year's Blast 24 production here.