If resilience is one of the traits that characterizes the youth of Boundary County, then the Bonners Ferry Summer Youth Theater group could set an example for the rest of us in terms of positive attitude. In the face of the loss of a dear friend (Matthew McLean) that could have devastated children of less hardy stock, the cast of Grease has forged ahead to epitomize the saying, "the show must go on."
The High Energy Cast Of Grease Prepares To Perform August 14 To 16.
Grease is the award winning 1972 musical set in California in 1959. Danny Zuko meets goody two shoes Sandy Olsson on the beach. They spend time together and fall in love, neither of them knowing that they will both attend the same high school in the fall. When they meet each other again at school, Sandy finds out that Danny is a "greaser." She must decide whether social class will keep them apart or whether she is willing to change in order to keep Danny in her life. Set against the halls of Rydell High School, the play follows ten kids as they navigate the complexities of relationships, cars and drive-ins. The music attempts to recreate the early rock 'n roll of the late '50s. The original Broadway production of Grease, which broke records for number of performances, was turned into a successful film and has remained a staple of many theatrical groups for its high energy music, vocal performances and distinctive characterizations of American teenagers.
A departure from the BFHS theater performances of the past several years, the final Bonners Ferry Summer Youth Theater production of the season promises to be both a challenge and a joy for the 35 cast members who gathered in Becker Auditorium to discuss their hopes for the musical. The group of actors was comprised of not just public high school students; all youths in the community were invited to audition for Summer Youth Theater.
Under the able direction of BFHS theater teacher David Carpenter, the "ever-ready-to-help-with-absolutely-anything" Dawn Carpenter and choreographer Melanie Shriner, the cast of Grease was candid about the difficulty of such an undertaking.
"This is new for Bonners Ferry youth because we haven't done anything with dancing in it before," said Charena Branscum. "It's a completely new experience for us."
Echoing Charena's thoughts, Evan Dornfeld said, "It's been challenging, getting used to the different personalities. I didn't know half of the people in the cast before this, but it's been enjoyable and I've liked their company."
"We were challenged to get into character and get to a more real depth," commented Ayla Neumeyer. "We had to be more thoughtful than we have been with other plays."
Tali Darrow felt that being a cast member in Grease has been a growing experience.
"We have learned each others' strengths and weaknesses," she mentioned. "We go through the same brotherly-sisterly love that all groups have gone through. I'm hoping we'll all remember this experience and remember being in Grease when we've been out of high school for a long time."
In choosing to stage Grease in Bonners Ferry, Mr. Carpenter said, "I chose the school version of Grease, which is much tamer than the original Broadway script or the movie version. We tried to push the limits a little bit, but we've stayed within the bounds of good taste for Bonners Ferry. This is going to be a good family show."
Joshua Smith emphasized the strong leadership and support from both Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter as being one of the factors that has helped the youth continue to work on the production.
"Mr. Carpenter is a great teacher and we're grateful for that," he said. "He has stepped up rehearsals every evening; we enjoy his critiquing."
Although there are several actors who have extensive speaking parts and will be singing solos, Mr. Carpenter emphasized the importance of each of the cast members in creating a musical of high caliber for the community.
"Each company member is just as important as the leads and their parts are often more challenging," he said. "They have to dance and sing a lot more than some of the lead parts do."
Mrs. Carpenter added, "Most of the kids have stepped outside their comfort zones and have liked it."
Lauren Palmer was one of the actors who understood how difficult it can be for a young person to "think outside the box."
"Working on stage, there's a lot of singing and dancing," she said, "but soon the stage started to feel like home. We started putting soul into our parts. If we didn't do that, it would be 'just acting'."
Brooke Roney reiterated the devotion that the actors had toward completion of the play, saying, "Overall, this play has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from each and every member of the cast."
Katrina Svec may have spoken for the whole cast when she said, "I've lived here for six years and this is the wildest and most fun play I've been in. This is probably the best play we've put on yet."
As an experienced student actor, Rose Johnson summed up what each of the youths in the ensemble may have been thinking with, "I've been in a few other plays and this has been the most difficult so far. We are still going to do this in Matt's honor."
Grease will be performed in Becker Auditorium at 7pm on August 14 and 15 and at 2pm on August 16. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Proceeds from the concessions will be donated to the McLean Family.