The Elk Lake Drama Department will undertake one of its most ambitious projects to date when it presents the musical ‘Grease’ at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2, 3, and 4 at the high school auditorium.
Set in 1959 at Rydell High School, ‘Grease’ tells the story of Danny Zuko, the leader of the ‘Burger Palace Boys,’ and Sandy Dumbrowki and her attempts to fit in as the new girl in school. There are subplots involving a number of other kids at school - mainly about bad girl Rizzo and her on-again, off-again relationship with boyfriend Kenickie. The musical contains a number of popular songs and dance routines.
Director Ina Bradish explained that she and the cast members could tackle a more elaborate production this years, thanks to the help she is receiving from her assistant director, Tonya Boatman.
“I felt we could do a bigger show, this year,” Bradish explained.
Boatman has previously helped with piano and choral work. For ‘Grease,’ she is directly overseeing the choral accompaniment as well as the choreography.
“I’m the crowd control and she is telling them what to do,” Bradish explained.
No musical is without its challenges, and for Bradish a special one has cropped up. Travis Tewksbury, who plays Danny, injured his leg about two weeks before the curtain is scheduled to go up.
“I was walking along when I heard a pop,” Tewksbury explained.
Tewksbury found out he had a dance fracture - which can be particularly difficult to heal due to poor blood circulation in the affected area. Although needing surgery to correct the problem, it has fortunately been scheduled after the production. In the meantime, Tewksbury has been proving himself a real trooper by going through rehearsals on crutches.
“We’re working on it,” Brandish said. “We’re not sure what we’re going to do now, but as rehearsals progress, we’ll make modifications, as needed.”
Tewksbury is confident he will be ready on opening night.
“This is probably the biggest role I’ve ever had,” the senior explained.
He said he’s been performing since sixth grade, having appeared in such Elk Lake productions as ‘Kilroy was Here,’ ‘Back to the 80s,’ and ‘Lady Pirates of the Caribbean.’
As a senior, Tewksbury works to set an example for the younger performers in the production to follow.
“Working with all these great people has been a blessing,” he said.
Sandy is being played by Dana Nunemacher, a junior.
“She’s kind of quiet, and while I’m not quiet, I’m definitely not a Rizzo,” Nunemacher explained about how she is playing Sandy.
This will be the first musical Nunemacher has played the lead - although she has been in previous Elk Lake productions, including ‘Back to the 80s,’ ‘The Baker Street Irregulars,’ and ‘Ditch Day.’
Like Tewksburg, Nunemacher says she has a responsibility to set an example for the younger members.
“I really like working here on a big production,” she said. “We have such a friendly group, and everyone is very talented.”
Rizzo, the second lead, is being performed by Reilly Shingler, a junior.
“I’m a naturally sassy person in real life,” Shingler explained. “So I drew upon that when I’m playing the character. It’s definitely something I enjoy driving headfirst into. So doing Rizzo isn’t super hard.”
Playing Kenickie is Justin Grosvenor, a senior.
“Kenickie is the kind of guy who has only one ambition - to the bad boy,” Grosvenor explained. “I had to kind of alter my thinking to play him. But once I got into it, it was fun.”
Rounding out the cast is sophomore Troy Rought, who plays Vince Fountaine.
“He’s the radio announcer,” Rought explained. “He also serves as MC at the dance. He’s very bright, very loud and borderline obnoxious. He judges the dance competition and usually just pops in with little radio announcements.”
Other members of the cast include: Caitlyn Brown, Hannah Decker, Jacky Gesford, Delaney Shingler, Feclicia Bedford, William Farnelli, George Sobeck, Max Woodhead, Nick Canfield, Ace Thomas, Colin Schake, Mitchell Delano, Douglas Priestner, and Josey Sobeck. Chorus is performed by Tadzi Trowbridge, Angel Trowbridge, and Lily Richards.