Pendleton Players slip into ‘Grease’

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PENDLETON — Pendleton Players will present its spring production of “Grease”

This is the 1950s rock ‘n’ roll musical that is one of the longest running shows in Broadway history, and one of the most popular movie musicals.

Grease takes you back to the ’50s when Ricky Nelson, Annette and the Mouseketeers were what was hot. A time when fast cars, drive-in-movies and the malt shops were what it was all about.

Rydell High’s spirited Class of ’59 captures the look and sound of the 1950s in a fast-paced musical that salutes the era. The Pink Ladies (played by Abby Davis, Bayla French, Bailey Miles and Skye Fuller) wear their poodle skirts and pedal pushers as they make their way through Rydell High.

The Greaser Burger Palace Boys (Drew Wilson, Alex Hardin, Alex Sabotnik, Anakin Allison and Charlton Westbrook) are the male counterparts concerned with cars, girls and looking cool.

While Danny Zuko (Jacob Hardin) and Sandy Dumbrowski (Alaina Glover) resolve the problems of their mutual attraction for each other, the gang sings and dances its way through such nostalgic scenes at the pajama party, the prom, the drive-in-movie and the Burger Palace.

While not exactly like the motion picture, it still captures most of the magical feeling with the familiar songs we all know.

To offset these “cool” characters are the nerdy Eugene (Broderick Schipp) and perky cheerleader, Patty (Lexy Alverson), who are always around to create funny moments at school.

Of course, school wouldn’t be complete without someone in charge, and Miss Lynch (Marian Case) rules Rydell High, or so she thinks.

ChaCha (Asia Mitchem), Vince Fontaine (Connor Jamison) and Johnny Casino (Parker Smith) add life to the huge prom scene. There is also a surprise guest performer as Teen Angel, who will be bringing his mentoring guidance to Frenchy, encouraging her to stay in school.

Rounding out the cast is a large ensemble of Rydell High Students which include: Keyona Ashé, Grace Baer, Gretchen Brumbaugh, Lilli Burkhardt, Cade Campbell, Mariel Claxon, Corbin Franklin, Mason Fridley, Evelyn Garard, Lilly Garard, Juan Garcia, Joel Gaar, Dawson Garner, Brookelynne George, Roger Gibson, Delaney Gillespie, Kaylee Granger, Cloey Griffin, Miranda Gust, Emily Harless, Bryce Hatfield, Matilde Henriksen, Audrey Hosier, Hannah Illuzzi, Katherine Jarrell, Annabel Johnson, Bryson Johnson, Jackson Keesling, Chloe Kincade, Averi Lanman, Christina Magers, Katie Martin, Emma McKinney, Quinn Miles, Genna Neeley, Jaden Precup, MacinPrecup, Samara Renner, Luke Robinson, Addi Rust, KyndalSagarsee, Matthew Sakeuh, Sam Sherman,Vincent Spear, Nathan Spencer and Lauren Wheetley.

This lively and funny musical is also one of the “dancingest” ones in town.

Ron Morgan, veteran Broadway performer who is known for his professional choreography at Beef and Boards, Booth Tarkington Theatre, Colts Cheerleaders and Pacemates, to mention a few, has choreographed several of the dance numbers, which are really a spectacle to behold.

He was also the original choreographer from the 1999 production, which opened the auditorium.

The big prom scene with the famous “Hand Jive” rivals any professional choreography you are likely to see, and the kids enjoy performing it.

Jodi Brown, East Elementary teacher who was featured in the 1999 production as Rizzo, assisted with teaching the original choreography and adding some of her own special touches to some of the numbers.

As artistic and technical director, I am joined once again by musical director Jim McGee. He also has been working with the volunteer band professionals who will play in the pit for the show.

My Technical Theatre classes have been busy working on the many technical aspects of the show, including construction, painting, sewing, lighting and sound.

The SPOTS (Supportive People of Theatre Students) adult volunteer group has also been helping with some of the more difficult challenges of the show, including a working garage door. During the show, stage managers Jacob Wilson and Quinlan Huntzinger will keep the crew running smoothly with student assistants Leah Manges, Ashley Ritchie and Nicole Jones.

A large group of high school students are also working the many crews needed to make a show of this magnitude run smoothly.

The opening scene in “Grease” just happens to be the 20-year class reunion for the Class of 1959 and then goes to a flashback of their high school memories. With that in mind, it seemed like a great idea to invite members of the cast from the 1999 Grease production, which was the first musical to be presented in the newly opened Loran G. Skinner Auditorium almost 20 years ago.

They will open the show, and then as it fades to the flashback, the current high school student cast will take over the roles and perform the show.

It has been so exciting planning this, and there has been such excitement from both the old cast and the new one to mesh the two for the opening scene. If there are cast members from that production who have not been contacted, please get in touch with me for details on how to participate.

As an added touch, Lamonte Kuskye, former choir director at Pendleton Heights during the ’90s who now teaches at Park Tudor, will be returning to work with the old cast members on their vocals for the opening.

Many of the 1999 cast members have joked they may have gained some weight and lost some hair, but they are anxious to see their old friends and get back on the stage for even a short appearance.

This has truly been an all-school production, with more than 150 students auditioning in January to earn a part. With a cast of 65 and a crew of 40, it is one of the most all-encompassing and diverse groups. The cast has representatives from all the competitive sports and clubs at Pendleton Heights. The show really is what high school theater is all about.

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Showtimes: 7 p.m. April 13, 1:30 and 7 p.m. April 14, and 1:30 p.m. April 15

Cost: $10 for people 19 and older; $7 for people 18 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased at pendletonplayers.com by clicking on “ticket.”

Saturday evening tickets are limited

Online ticket sales will stop at 9 a.m. Friday, April 13.  After that, tickets must be purchased at the door with cash or check. The box office will open 1 hour prior to show time.

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