Johnstown Independent

March 15-17

'Grease' is the word for Northridge musical

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Northridge High School senior Keenan Kauahi (center) and other students rehearse for their slated performance of "Grease." Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17.
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Northridge High School students are rehearsing for a 1972 classic set in the 1950s -- a milder, family-friendly version, anyway.

Northridge Middle School language-arts teacher Jennifer Ulery said Northridge High School's spring musical production of Grease is more family-friendly than the original musical and other theatrical versions.

"We cleaned it up," said Ulery, who is assistant director.

She said any profanity or innuendo was removed from the script.

"Anyone can see it," she said.

Grease is a 1972 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey and led to the 1978 movie featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The story is about teens in love in the 1950s. Set in California, 1959 greaser Danny and Sandy are in love. They spend time at the beach, but when they go back to school, neither realizes each other attends Rydell High. Danny's the leader of the T-Birds, a group of greasers, and Sandy hangs out with the Pink Ladies, a group of pink-wearing girls led by Betty Rizzo. When they clash at Rydell's first pep rally, Danny isn't the same Danny at the beach. They try to be like each other so they can be together, with Danny trying to be a nice guy and Sandy trying to be a little less nice.

Ulery said the Northridge version is a massive production that began rehearsals in January, and the cast is rehearsing five to six days a week to master the complex choreography and musical scores.

Nearly 40 Northridge High School students are in the cast, with seven in the crew.

Even with the cleaned-up script, Ulery said, the play addresses some relatively mature themes, so no middle-schoolers in this version.

"We have four freshman girl leads, and the guys are juniors and seniors," she said. "The vocals our kids have will absolutely amaze people. This is really a talented group."

Ulery said she also is impressed with the set, which replicates a 1950s diner. She said the production has been an incredible amount of work, with the choreography being the biggest challenge, but it's really coming together.

"We're exhausted, but it's going really well," said Ulery, who added that production could not have gone as smoothly without the tremendous community support the group is receiving. "We've been really fortunate."

The cast features T-Birds Jacob Eckhardt as Danny, Tommy Petrushka as Kenickie, Keenan Kauahi as Doody, Vincent Sanfillipo as Roger and Ryan Johnson as Sonny La Terri.

Pink Ladies are Jamie Comisford as Sandy, Mirandah Popp as Betty Rizzo, Jessica Nincehelser as Frenchy, Kaelin Curran as Marty and Trisha McConnell as Jan.

Beauty School Dropout ladies are Aili Barbee, Amy Blumensheld, Laura Brown, Amber Gantt, Emily Hankinson, Kayley McCormick, Alayna Smith, Kacie Tornes, Sarah Turner and Raven Wolfe.

Cheerleaders are Rachel Vaughan, Ashley Dean and Kendra Garee.

Rydell students are Kaitlin Garee, Ronni Fleshman, Mason Alexander and Makenzie Messer.

Other cast members are Jesse Kanavel, Brandon Eckstein, Ian Ware, Billy Martin, Leyna Varney, Hayley Curran, Jessica Carrington, Ashley Parker, Alison Day, Joe McDanel, Kevin Strong and Nick Willeke.

Northridge High School vocal teacher Jessica Weiss is directing.

Adreona Perkowski is stage manager, with E.J. Cox, Sean Cox, Charlie Hathoway and Bob Hensley working as stage hands and Katie Pileski and Mike Pileski doing lights.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens.

For ticket information, contact (740) 315-8453 or email vikingsmusical@gmail.com.

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