NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Rehearsals for The North Salem Rock Star Fantasy Show, which is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m., are in the home stretch. The rock stars have been practicing four hours a day, every day, for the last week.
“We’re actually practicing on the stage now,” said producer/director/mentor/volunteer Roman Tytla. “I’m trying to make this as professional as I can. I want the kids to experience it from a rock star’s point of view. Being backstage, the vibes, the exclusivity, the privacy. Parents will not be permitted backstage the last hour before the show.”
“I’ve been humbled by the progress these kids have made,” Tytla said of his young musicians. “It was more than I could possibly imagine. One of our singers could barely step up to the mike in the beginning. I told him, ‘If you can’t do it with us, how can you do it in front of an audience?’ He went off by himself and then returned. ‘I’m ready now,’ he said.”
Tytla later received an email from the boy’s parents saying they were amazed that their son had come out of his shell. “Of course, now that he’s the front man, he’s got L.V.S.,” added Tytla jokingly. “Lead Vocalist Syndrome.”
Tytla’s assistant, Jeff Field, was challenged by teaching the kids to play together as a group. “They had to learn to listen to each other and play off each other. They learned to be selfless.”
“With lots of practice and exceptional help from Jeff, I found my voice,” said thirteen-year-old Liam Gorbutt from Somers. “Before, I was always trying to be somebody else when I sang. Now I’ve got my own interpretation.”
Among the parents hanging around the rehearsal hall were Ken and Chris Guignardi. They met as teenagers on the very stage where their eighth-grade son, Paul, now rehearsed the drums. “Thanks to Roman, Paul’s learned a lot of new techniques and songs,” said Ken Guignardi.
Were they nervous on Paul’s behalf? “My wife is nervous. I’m excited.”
The double rock group show opens with WTFunk and concludes with Rhetorical Countdown. Special guests, including Survivor's Dave Bickler, will appear in between. It is hoped that all audience members will download Zippo Lighter apps on their phones to encourage an encore.
Afterwards, the performers, armed with Sharpies, will be poised to sign autographs at a meet-and-greet table.
Suggested admission to the show is $5 per person. Proceeds will go the Baumler and Robson families of North Salem, whose sons were lost together when a tree toppled during Hurricane Sandy, killing both boys.
The North Salem Rock Star Fantasy Show will be presented in the North Salem Middle/High School auditorium.