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South Valley Journal

Riverton High Students ‘don’t stop believing’ despite show cancellation

May 11, 2020 12:26PM ● By Jet Burnham

The cast rehearses for “Rock of Ages” before the show was cancelled when Utah schools closed for the year. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

No audience will ever see Riverton High School’s music, dance and theater class’s performance of the ’80s rock musical “Rock of Ages.” However, the show has had a lasting effect on the students who rehearsed for it together in February and then virtually in March before learning the play was cancelled due to community social distancing measures.

 “I learned from the character even though I didn’t get to present that character to people, and it will influence me in the future,” said senior Gage White.

“Rock of Ages” is the story of two young people chasing their dreams of stardom. White was cast as Drew, the wannabe rock star who finds the road to success isn’t what he thought it would be. 

“The whole theme of the story is you may not leave with the same dreams that you came in with but they rock nonetheless—(pun intended),” White said.

He said the message ties in nicely with what his experience has been for the last several weeks. He’s moving on from high school and from theater in an unexpected way but isn’t letting the abrupt change prevent him from moving forward on a new pathway.

“You take it in your stride, and you learn from it, and it’s just going to make you a better person,” he said. White said he’s already developed new skills from this experience. While he wasn’t very computer savvy a month ago, he now uses the computer to complete his high school classes and to apply for colleges.

He believes his future is wide open.

“I'm not someone that has known since elementary school that I wanted to do a certain thing,” he said. “There's ideals and places that I would love to be, but I never know for sure where my life is going. But I know that however it ends, it'll be good. I just need to go with the flow but work toward my dreams, and it'll all pay off.”

White believes taking opportunities that come his way will lead him to where he needs to be. He is an actor, singer, violinist and cheerleader and is still searching for his one true passion.

White’s would-be co-star Emma Otis found her character very relatable. In the show, Sherrie leaves her small town for the glamorous big city with dreams of being an actress.

“I love her determination—that she doesn't let anything stop her from getting what she wants; she is a dreamer,” Otis said. Otis, a junior, also has dreams to be an actress.

 “I know what I want to do, and I'm doing everything I can to reach that point,” she said. 

She said the message of the show resonates with her and can be summed up in the lyrics of one the show’s ’80s rock songs: “‘Don't stop believing’ and pursue what you love,” she said.