Cast named for CCHS’s ’Grease,’ rehearsals underway
By James Grob, firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper McInroy and Griffin Franksain will play the iconic characters of Sandy and Danny in Charles City High School’s upcoming production of “Grease.”
The 2021 fall musical, presented by CCHS’s music and drama departments, will be performed live at North Grand Auditorium on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5-6, at 7 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Nov. 7, starting at 2 p.m.
Rehearsals have been underway for two weeks, and tickets will go on sale Oct. 22.
Director Michelle Grob said that “Grease” is a show that she and musical director Derek Sturtevant have considered for the last few years, because it’s so well-known and loved across generations.
“It’s also very balanced, with an equal number of male and female roles,” Grob said. “We have a lot of talented high school boys and high school girls to work with, and there are a lot of opportunities for solos and duets.”
Besides the lead roles by McInroy and Franksain, there are eight other principal characters, four male and four female. The rest of the “T-Birds” gang will be Anders Haglund as Kenickie, Breyer Ellison as Sonny, Jacob Diers as Doody and DaShawn Griffin as Roger.
The rest of the “Pink Ladies” gang will be Emma Schmiedel as Rizzo, Teagan Prigge as Marty, Sophia Jensen as Jan and Sydney Otto as Frenchie.
“Grease” is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Named after the 1950s U.S. working-class youth subculture known as “greasers,” the musical is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School and follows 10 teenagers as they navigate the complexities of growing up.
The musical score borrows heavily from the sounds of early rock and roll music.
“Many people know a lot of the music, because of the movie,” Grob said.
In its original production, “Grease” was characterized as a raunchy, raw, aggressive and vulgar show. Subsequent productions sanitized it and toned it down.
“Grease” was adapted in 1978 as a feature film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The movie removed some plot elements, characters, and songs while adding new songs and elaborating on some plot elements only alluded to in the musical.
Some of these revisions have been incorporated into the version CCHS will present. Grob said that there are many similarities to the movie in the production, but fans of the movie will see some notable differences.
Other characters in the CCHS production will be Sydney Hinz as Patty; Susana Gonzalez as Miss Lynch, Liz Oleson as Cha-Cha, Blake Hoeft as Eugene, Lance Shivers as Vince Fontaine; Raymond August as Teen Angel/Johnny Casino, and Kaity Heckers and Eboni Patterson as the Radio Singers.
The rest of the ensemble includes Ella Jones, Jenna Aikey, Savannah Baldus, Ellie Gassman, Gracie Opp, Emily Usher, Elise White, Lilie Mohring, Christian Hughes, Reegan Severin, Ali Blickenderfer and Natalie King.
The backstage crew includes Natalie Keyes, Jocelyn Schoeneman, Evelyn Read, Addison Tracey, Emily Jones, Kali Jones, Kristen Aikey and Zadie Pittman.
Hannah DeVore will be the stage manager, Kirah Vickerman will be the assistant stage manager, Jadince Schuttler will be the prop master and Katie Prichard will run lights.
Linda Hughes will be doing costuming while local artist Elissa Ellis will be creating and building the set.
Grob said she and Sturtevant initially approached Ellis to build the car that was to be used on stage, because Ellis had built cars made out of cardboard for Charles City’s July 4th parade. They then discovered she had experience and was interested in building the entire set for the production.
There are some adult themes, language and humor — as well as some sexual references — in the show, so Grob said that parents with younger children might want to use discretion.
“It’s not much different in language and sexual innuendos than the movie,” Grob said. “If you would let your child watch the movie, then this production should be OK, but if you wouldn’t, then maybe not.”
The show mentions social issues such as teenage pregnancy, peer pressure and gang violence. Its themes include love, friendship, teenage rebellion, sexual exploration during adolescence, and class consciousness and class conflict.
Grob said that some younger children have the maturity to handle those situations and some don’t.
“We know our local parents will use good judgment as to what’s right for their own kids,” Grob said.