When we moved to our small Maryland town several years ago, we heard the same question from neighbors each spring:

“Are you going to Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival?”

Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival was the annual music revue produced by our local high school. With children ages 5 and 2, I found the question odd.

“No,” I’d say. “My kids aren’t in high school.”

But after two or three years, the neighbors wore me down. We bought tickets and took our young sons to their first high school show.

The auditorium was packed — and this was the second weekend and sixth performance of the revue.

“How long is this?” my husband asked.

“Three hours!” I said. “We’ll leave at intermission.”

The auditorium darkened; the curtain rose; high schoolers began to sing and dance and play guitars and drums and horns and basses and violins and other sundry musical instruments and pay homage to songs from the ’50s and ’60s; the ’70s and ’80s. My husband’s and my mouth dropped open. At intermission we looked at each other.

“We are not going home!”

Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival is an institution in our community. It capped off its 46th year this afternoon. My oldest played trumpet in it each of his high school years. My youngest (who fell asleep in his seat the first year we saw it) just finished his freshman year in the show, working backstage with the microphones.

I’m a rabid proponent of arts in the schools. When I was in junior high school, the social strata consisted of cheerleaders, athletes and “losers.” Not being naturally athletic or pretty enough to score a spot on the eight-girl cheerleading squad, I fought a constant internal chorus of, “No good; no good; no good.” Then a wonderful music teacher listened to me sing a scale in eighth grade and said, “Hmmm, I think I can do something with that.” A drama teacher watched me flash a bit of diva wing during a sophomore musical tryout and said, “Hmmmm, I think I can use that.” Through music and drama, I lost an almost debilitating shyness and gained a sense of purpose, self and confidence.

Somehow, our high school has made an arts offering as popular as its quite sizable athletic program. People who graduated decades ago come back to see the shows; people who have never had children in the school look forward to the annual performances. My parents flew from Kansas City to see their oldest grandchild in his first production and left amazed.

“I had no idea we were going to see this,” my father said.

Yes, Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival is a surprise to all the uninitiated. What seems ordinary (a high school music revue, for heaven’s sake!) can make the leap to extraordinary when mixed with hard work, ambition, dedication and talent.

We can’t wait until next year. And in case you didn’t know:

No one ever leaves at intermission.

Rum & Orange Pears

I made this dessert when we got home from today’s final Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival performance. It seemed fitting: Take something ordinary (pears just this side of too ripe), combine them with some workhorse ingredients (rum, oats, nuts), then let them meld together to produce something greater than the raw ingredients. It was a showstopping end to dinner … and proof that a little attention can turn even the shyest of ingredients into something special.

  • 4 ripe pears
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Coat a small casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

Peel and halve each pear. Using a small melon baller, scoop out the cores.

Place the pears cut-side up in your prepared casserole dish.

Sprinkle on the orange juice and rum.

Layer on the brown sugar, oatmeal and almonds.

Sprinkle on cinnamon and nutmeg, then cut your butter into cubes and dot the pears.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.