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'Grease' opens at Phoenix Festival Theater Sept. 7

Visit the rock-and-rollin' 1950s at Rydell High in the musical, "Grease," opening at Phoenix Festival Theater Sept. 7. You'll hear songs like "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightnin'," "We Go Together" and "You're the One That I Want," performed by girls in circle skirts and ponytails and guys in black leather jackets. Director Lauren Spencer-Harris directs the 35-member cast, most of them teenagers, in this tale of young love and peer pressure.

"Grease" runs weekends at the Chesapeake Theater at Harford Community College, 401 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air, from Sept. 7 to 16. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $20 at 443-412-2211 or

Choreographer Bambi Johnson has impressive "chops" in her field, which shows in the way the cast members cavort nimbly onstage. She directs the production of national dance and cheer events for All Star Challenge as well as doing choreography for competitive dance and cheer teams. Her own dance team, Entourage, won the state championship earlier this year and came in second nationwide.

"I gave it to them with both barrels, and they stepped up. It's very athletic choreography, especially in 'Greased Lightnin'," she said, noting that six-hour Saturday rehearsals were not uncommon.

Shane Lowry of Fallston and Kyleigh Daiker of Joppatowne play young lovers Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski.

Lowry, 20, who played clerk Barnaby Tucker in "Hello, Dolly!" here struts his stuff as the coolest of the Burger Palace guys. Daiker, 16, a senior at John Carroll School, plays his shy girlfriend.

Other couples include Kenickie (Tyler Fritz) and Rizzo (Jillian Victoria). Although he's the first to own a set of wheels, his romance with the independent Rizzo is somewhat rocky. He leads the guys in celebrating his car in "Greased Lightnin'." She shows heartbreak in "There Are Worse Things I Could Do."

Thomas Gardner, 17, a senior at John Carroll School in Bel Air, plays Roger, who hooks up with Jan (Bevin Hensley). Known informally as "Rump," Roger, who played clerk Cornelius Hackl in last season's "Hello, Dolly!", is known as the mooning champ of Rydell High. Jan is known for snacking constantly. Hensley estimates that during the run of the show, she'll eat all - or part of - 27 cheeseburgers, 48 Twinkies and seven bowls of popcorn. In her day job as theater technician, she and her crew built and painted the set.

The youngest of the Burger Palace guys is Doody, played by limber Brady Fritz, 15, a John Carroll sophomore. "He wants to be them [the older, 'cooler' guys]," he said. His girlfriend is Frenchy, played by Nina Cicero, 16, a junior at North Harford High School. "She's not the brightest, but she has good intentions," she said.

Jennifer Lutz plays flirtatious and boy-crazy Marty, whose big song is "Freddy, My Love." Laura Ebsworth, 16, a senior at North Harford High School, plays clueless cheerleader Patty Simcox. Her nerdy counterpart is class valedictorian Eugene, played by Adam Nelson, also 16, and a junior at Bel Air High School.

Carrie Dill makes a very proper Miss Lynch, who, surprisingly, cuts a mean rug at the senior prom. Her date is Doug Kotula, who plays both the school janitor and the Teen Angel who advises Frenchy the dropout to go back to high school. Silver-tongued Bill Fritz plays Vince Fontaine and Johnny Casino. Benjamin Paul plays Sonny LaTierri and Leslie Perry plays Cha-Cha DiGregorio.

The company includes Mackenzie Brockmeyer, Tabby Golumbek, Erin Huffer, Campbell Kistner, Dominic LaFrancesca, Maggie LaHatte, Codey Odachowski, Brianna Smith, Monique Watson, Tamara Whaley, Tiffany Flaharty, Karly Horn, Breanna Hurley, Megan Koncurat, Emily LaHatte, Lexi Magee, Steven Prichard, Allison Stokes, Madison Weinberg and Rebecca Wiseman.

Live music is provided by music director Cedric Lyles on piano, Christopher Reardon on reeds, Daryl Stolzfus on bass, Soren Mattson on guitar and Matthew Lampart on drums.

The production team includes company manager/producer Larry Hensley, technical director Jeff Kanyuck, stage manager Katie Manning, set designer Dawn Klein, costume designer Stella DiPeso, lighting designer Kerry Brandon and scenic artist Holly Klink.

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