Education

River City Revue goes out with top award

Hannibal High School senior Travon Stevenson, sings in a River City Revue performance during the 2019-2020 season. The show choir members achieved several accolades during the season and took Grand Champion honors in a regional contest held in Fort Madison, Iowa.
DAN DALSTRA PHOTGRAPHY
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: May. 15, 2020 9:00 am

HANNIBAL | The River City Revue show choir members at Hannibal High School began a journey together with a day camp in summer 2019, culminating after months of hard work with an award-winning performance which included the Grand Champion distinction at the Fort Madison, Iowa Competition.

RCR Director Kate Fuller said the students didn't know it at the time, but the performance in Fort Madison would be their final competition of the season due to precautions related to the coronavirus. And Fuller couldn't be more proud of each student who demonstrated “the best of the best as far as work ethic goes.” In addition to the Grand Champion award, they earned Second Place in the 4A division, Best Band, Best Vocals and Best Choreography during the season's final competition. During their previous performances and through every rehearsal, the students continued to hone each song, choreography and other details of their performance with support from fellow RCR Director Sara Kurz, professional choreographer Anne Chapman, student instrumental combo members and Director Mike Fuller and accompanist Cheryl Ruhr, who attended every practice and helped alter the costumes.

Adult leaders said the students demonstrated their dedication during practice sessions and extended choreography rehearsals as they worked on each new song and dance move.

“Our students are dedicated to coming to practices and rehearsals in the evenings and on weekends, they work hard in class and they listen to feedback given to them always working to make their show the best it can be,” Fuller said. “This year we had 14 seniors that led the way for our underclassmen. The leadership these seniors provided for our younger members is a major part of our success story this year.”

Freshman Michael Hark said he remembered a standout practice which was a highlight during his first year in show choir and amid his transition from Holy Family School.

“In class, we were performing a closing number ... and we were trying to put all of the dance segments together while also singing it together for the first time — and we did it,” Hark said. “We just did the whole song, all the way through, and then we were done and we were exhausted. And they were like 'OK, class is done, go to lunch.' That's the first moment I realized 'wow, so this is what this going to be like.'”

From that point on, Hark said he felt a “drive to keep going,” learning each song with fellow RCR members as they worked to achieve excellence during each rehearsal. As far as future seasons, Hark is excited that he has a year of experience now. “I've kind of broken out of my shell,” Hark said, adding that he looks forward to the next season and the opportunity to perform new songs and choreography alongside new colleagues.

Fuller said the songs provided an experience emphasizing hope and freedom for audience members and judges — many students connected to the songs on a “deeper and more personal level this year.” The selections included “Bottom of the River/Chains,” “In Chains,” “Warrior,” “I'm Free/Fortune Favors the Brave” and “Heaven is on My Side.” Soloists during the performances were Ellie Locke, Travon Stevenson and Evie Rodenbaugh. Fuller stressed why the songs meant so much to the students.

“It was clear that each one of them had a story to share. They have inspired countless others to break those chains and live a life that is free,” Fuller said. “Although winning awards and coming back home with lots of hardware is so much fun, the best reward for me is to see these kids believing in themselves and building each other up along the way.”

The students did just that, improving with each rehearsal and competition — during the first competition in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, they were awarded Second Place in the 4A Division, Best Crew and Second Runner Up. During the Platte County, Missouri Competition, they received Third in the 4A Division, Best Opener, Best Ballad and First Runner Up before performing in the competition in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Fuller and her students remember the moment when they learned of the accolades they received. They initially scored third place in the preliminary round, but the final round brought joyful results for everyone when the results were announced.

“When I think about that night I still get goosebumps, as in my mind I can hear them sing that last note and see them hit that last pose,” Fuller said. “I can still feel the energy from that last performance because they sang and danced their hearts out and left everything that they had on the stage. I'm sad that this was my last memory from our competition season this year, but I'm also happy because what could be better than winning Grand Champion?”

Senior Liz Stilley said the teamwork within the group was key to their success, noting that the achievements were even more special when she and fellow members realized Ft. Madison would be the site of the season's final competition.

"It just feels so good, it makes you feel so proud, because we were with each other so much and we worked so hard, so it makes you feel like a family almost," Stilley said. "It's great to be able to celebrate each other by winning Grand Champion. It feels like it was all worth it."

Sophomore Brooklyn Haye had a similar reaction to the honor.

“It's a good reward — all the hard work we put in, and we really worked hard, every time we went up there,” Haye said. She noticed the final round brought out the best in all of the RCR members.

“In competitions, I really feel like it was all warmups before our final performance, because in the prelims, we were always kind of average performing,” Haye said.

“Once we went to finals, I think we all just kicked up our gears a little and that's how we did really well.” Junior Spencer Street agreed.

“We got into the preliminary round and we got third. We were a little discouraged, but we just told each other, we all came together and we were like 'we need to try our best here, we need to try and do the best we can,” Street said, recalling the wait for the announcement of River City Revue's name after they announced the second and third place winners.

“We were all freaking out, and then they said 'Grand Champs, River City Revue,' and we were just ecstatic,” Street said. “The whole room lit up, and we just ran the stage, we were all jumping up and down — very cool.”

Street said he is grateful he began a musical journey with the Pirate Singers in Hannibal Middle School which lead to the camaraderie within RCR.

That started me with this choir family, and I've had a secondary family in school for three years now,” Street said. “It's pretty cool. I really like it.”

Liz Stilley, a senior member of RCR, said the teamwork within the group was key to their success, noting that the achievements were even more special when she and fellow members realized Ft. Madison would be the site of the season's final competition.

"It just feels so good, it makes you feel so proud, because we were with each other so much and we worked so hard, so it makes you feel like a family almost," Stilley said. "It's great to be able to celebrate each other by winning Grand Champion. It feels like it was all worth it."

 

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