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Beatles-inspired fundraiser to save musical

By: Lien Hoang Special to The Placer Herald
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They can’t buy love, but can The Beatles buy another year for Rocklin High School’s annual musical? With budget cuts pushing the 13-year tradition closer to extinction, supporters hope to keep it alive through a benefit concert, “Save the Musical: A Tribute to The Beatles.” Drawing on the talent of students, parents, staff, and alumni, the concert Aug. 5-7 will cover 30 songs by the Fab Four to raise $6,500. That money would fill the shortfall in compensation for the musical’s organizers, after the Rocklin Unified School District cut 20 percent from stipends for extra-curricular advisers and coaches. At RHS, staff voted to spread that burden across all stipend recipients rather than fire 20 percent of them. “Nobody wants cuts made but we didn’t want to lose teachers,” said RHS theater arts program director Cinny Toepke. She is one of four paid staff running the musical. “I don’t think there are any hard feelings. We thought this was the fairest thing to do.” When John Hughes heard 2011 could be the year the musical died at RHS, he decided to reprise a Beatles concert he played with students two years ago - but this time, bigger and better. Nearly 50 volunteers will help perform Beatles tunes as they were originally recorded. Hughes, the concert director, chose the playlist from the less popular, such as “Don’t Let Me Down,” to the hits like “Hey, Jude,” to be performed by 30 musicians, plus a few surprises. “I took up the yoke because I figured I had the time to do it,” said Hughes, an appraiser for Sacramento County, parent of RUSD students, and frequent performer at Rocklin shows. “Teachers were already worn out from fundraising.” In addition to ticket sales and donations, the group has started a Facebook page and reached out to local sponsors to help with advertising. Tops Yogurt will donate 20 percent of its revenue from the three nights of the concert. The Facebook page, supported by 188 people, announced two free tickets for the supporter who submits the best Beatles cover via Youtube. The winner will be decided July 30. If successful, the fundraiser will allow more students like Madi Crossland to keep performing in the musical. “It really helps you meet new people, open up, and learn more about yourself,” said Crossland, a rising sophomore who played Auntie Em and Glinda in last year’s musical, The Wiz. Without the musical, Toepke said the school could end up with a less “well-rounded” arts program. “This is the one time where all of the performing arts can get together,” Toepke said. “Without it we wouldn’t have that celebration of the arts.” For her work on the musical, Toepke said her pay comes out to something like $2 or $3 an hour - and that’s before the district’s 20 percent cut. Still, if the concert doesn’t raise enough money, she said the show will go on, and she can’t imagine anything less than a full musical production. “I wouldn’t scale it back because it’s not fair to the kids,” she said. Depending on the outcome, the tribute could, like the musical, become an annual custom, according to Hughes, who said, “Any excuse you have to play music is a good excuse.” For information and tickets ($10), visit www.savethe musical.com. Save the Musical What: “Save the Musical: A Tribute to The Beatles” When: 7 p.m. Aug. 5-7 Where: Katie Taylor Memorial Theater, Rocklin High School, 5301 Victory Lane Cost: $10 Info: www.savethemusical.com