During the May 8 dress rehearsal for Wilcox Stage Company’s (wilcox.schoolloop.com/theater) “Grease” at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts, the T-Birds’ black leather jackets and the Pink Ladies’ shiny pink jackets marked the cliques that ruled Rydell High School in this timeless American musical set in the 1950s.
Performed by a hard-working cast of Wilcox High School students, the story centered on how the sweet Sandy and the rebellious Danny became a steady couple as well as the shenanigans of their classmates.
The show opened on May 11 and runs through May 19. Putting on the show has been a labor of love for the cast members, many of whom have had to simultaneously manage other responsibilities, including serving as crew members.
“For this production, most students have been focused on four to five aspects of the show,” said Claire Robson, director, production manager and instructor for the school’s Theater Productions class.
Take Olivia Gonzales, 15, for instance. Not only does Gonzales play Marty, she also has served on the production team as an assistant stage manager with jobs that included choreography and detail painting (painting letters and patterns on the set).
“We have about two hours of rehearsal a day regularly in our Theater Productions class that meets 4 days a week; during tech week, a week of dress rehearsals, it’s about double that so I am working about 16 hours,” Gonzales said. “The biggest thing for me is balancing the show with schoolwork. When I’m in rehearsal, I focus solely on the show. When I’m home, I focus only on school work.”
Monica Janusz, 18, who portrays Rizzo, has been a stage manager, detail painter and set builder who has worked on her crew duties during pockets of free time.
“I have a free fifth period at school and I would come in during that class period and I would paint and build tech stuff,” Janusz said. “Sometimes I would stay after school to work. I even came in during my spring break to paint part of a set for nine hours.”
Jessica O’Gorman, 16, has juggled two different productions. While practicing the role of Sandy in “Grease,” O’Gorman was also playing Mrs. Potts in Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Additionally, O’Gorman has worked as a publicist and assistant sound operator for the Wilcox show.
“When sound is run, it’s run from the booth but it plays in speakers throughout the theater,” O’Gorman said. “I work with my classmate, Aya Furuta, who also does the sound design. When I’m on stage and she’s here, she plays the sound. When I’m not on stage, I play the sound.”
“Crazy” was how Jon Moorwood, 18, described the feat of balancing school, college applications and rehearsing for his role as Danny. But he has muscled through it. Moorwood revealed that years ago, he acted in a sanitized version of this high school musical.
“‘Grease’ was the first play I was in when I was in seventh-grade at Peterson Middle School,” Moorwood said. “In that play, I payed Danny Zuko and now that I’m at the end of my high school years, I’m playing Danny Zuko again.”