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Retro Dinner Theater, with Songs You Can Dance To


Mill Creek Middle School sixth-grade choir students opened their arms wide, punctuating “Life goes on, bra!” during the Beatles’ 1968 hit “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.

Then they performed Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” before jumping ahead to the eighties with an air-punching rendition of Survivor’s “The Eye of the Tiger.” In between, they became reflective for John Lennon’s 1971 hit, “Imagine.”

The middle-schoolers tonight will join Comstock Park High School students for their third annual dinner theater performance, a fundraiser for the district’s choir programs. The audience will dine on decade-themed food like wings, meatballs and sliders, while students perform songs from the ’60s through the ’90s during the “Flashback Friday” performance. The event starts at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium, 150 6 Mile Road NE.

Seventh-grader Arica Wade leads Queen’s 1976 song, “Somebody to Love”
Seventh-grader Arica Wade leads Queen’s 1976 song, “Somebody to Love”

“The kids really latch on to it. Because they know their parents are invested in that music, they are excited to learn it,” said Jeanette Doehring, music teacher for all Comstock Park choirs.

The venue was set up as a true dinner theater, with people noshing as choirs performed hits by The Monkees, Carly Simon, Frankie Valli, Kenny Loggins, Cyndi Lauper, Celine Dion and other artists from throughout the decades.

Seventh-grader Arica Wade wore a flower headband, reminiscent of the seventies, at a recent rehearsal. “It’s fun to play around with different songs and hear how different they are from right now,” she said.

Added seventh-grader Taylour Riley: “I like that the songs are from a long time ago and we get to experience them now.”

Comstock Park Public Schools choir program has grown in recent years and now includes 107 students in grades 6 through 12, including the elite Vocal Impacts group started two years ago. The program has grown from 45 students three years ago when the district opened its $7.9 million facility that converts from a gymnasium, to a 700-seat auditorium.

The Vocal Impact choir was also added, allowing music students to make their voices heard in the community and at local events in the Grand Rapids area. They recently sang The National Anthem at the opening ceremonies at the Michigan High School State Athletic Association state wrestling finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills, and plan to perform at a West Michigan Whitecaps baseball game this season.

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Hot Songs Throughout the Decades

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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