A record number of Hereford High School students auditioned for the upcoming musical, "Grease," to be performed April 3-6. Most of them were already familiar with the 1978 movie featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and they knew the lyrics to songs like "You're The One That I Want," and "Summer Nights."
In all, 60 Hereford kids will rock 'n' roll on stage as students in 1959 at the fictitious Rydell High School.
"I think we had such a huge turnout because the students get to play kids their own age," said Kathryn Schmitt, a senior, who is student director. "The musical is set in a simpler time, but their problems were still about girlfriends and boyfriends, school and parents."
Sophomore Kelsey Brush plays the role of Sandy, a naïve girl who has a summer romance with Danny, played by senior Ben Mann.
"It's great doing a musical like this after last year's musical, 'Phantom of the Opera', was so serious," Brush said. "I already knew most of the songs."
When Sandy enrolls at Rydell High, she sees Danny and learns he is leader of a group of tough greasers in black leather jackets.
"I was so excited when I heard we were doing 'Grease'," said Mann, who will be appearing in his 10th show at Hereford. "I never thought I'd get the role of Danny, but when I did, I thought, 'Oh, man, I have to dance'."
Hereford dance teacher Erin Norton choreographed the show. She got inspiration from both the movie and the Broadway play, but created her own dance routines. The entire cast had twice-weekly dance rehearsals this winter.
"I love working with this cast. They pick up things fast and retain choreography really well," Norton said.
In all, there are eight dance routines in the musical.
"If you're a dancer, you know 'Grease'," said Tyler Griffith, a senior dancer who plays Frenchie, a member of the girls group called the Pink Ladies. "Frenchie is not only a high school drop-out, but a beauty school drop-out, too. She's Sandy's first friend."
Courtney Bollinger, a senior, plays the brash Rizzo, leader of the Pink Ladies.
"I love 'Grease' and I'm so happy to be playing Rizzo," she said. "She is spunky and can speak for herself. She's tough on the outside, but really holds everything inside."
Also appearing as members of Danny's gang are: Nathan Good, Noah Konkus, Sam Boelens, Will Carral and Jack Bundra. Other members of the Pink Ladies include Sophie Skala and Veronica Brown.
Sophie Semeniuk appears as the preppy cheerleader Patty. Will Cabral plays Eugene, the class nerd. Kirsten Herman plays the loud teacher, Miss Lynch; Julia Wagner plays Blanche, the assistant principal; and Kelly Strucko is Cha-Cha, the school's best dancer. Patrick Chaney plays Teen Angel and Jake Rayburn is Johnny Casino.
"Grease" is the first production being held in the newly renovated auditorium, done as part of a $51 million construction project. The auditorium's 800 wooden seats, which were noisy and uncomfortable, were removed and replaced with red plastic seats. There are now eight spots for wheelchairs.
Lobby bathrooms were updated with new fixtures and retiled. There is now a handicap door to the lobby from outside.
New stage lights and a state-of-the-art digital sound system also were added.
The show begins at 7 p.m. on April 3, 4 and 5. The April 6 performance begins at 4 p.m. General admission tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at Seatyourself.biz.
Friday, April 4 is a special dinner and show. Those tickets are $24 and include dinner and a reserved seat in the auditorium's front section. The dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. Those tickets are also available on seatyourself.biz.