Musicals return to West Jeff

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Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick Students rehearse a dance number for the upcoming production of “Grease,” Jefferson Local Schools’ first musical in five years: (from left) Keresa Murray as Frenchy, Drew Hudson as Eugene, Haley Glover as Patty, and Andy Weber as Roger.
Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Students rehearse a dance number for the upcoming production of “Grease,” Jefferson Local Schools’ first musical in five years: (from left) Keresa Murray as Frenchy, Drew Hudson as Eugene, Haley Glover as Patty, and Andy Weber as Roger.

(Posted April 15, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Jefferson Local Schools’ musical drought is over. Forty-five high school and middle school students will take the stage April 17-19 to present “Grease.”

Last fall, the school board reinstated funding for the musical, which was cut five years ago when district finances were tight. New choir teacher John McClain is thrilled to be directing the first show back.

“When they said they wanted the musical back and they wanted it to be big, I couldn’t think of a better show than ‘Grease,’ ” he said. “It’s well known, and the music is timeless. Everybody knows ‘Summer Nights,’ ‘We Go Together’ and ‘Greased Lightnin’.’ ”

The show—about working class teenagers navigating peer pressure, politics and love in the 1950s—also offered the opportunity to have a large cast, something McClain needed in order to match the outpouring of interest from students.

“To have 45 in the cast, that’s a big feat the first time out,” he said.

Also a big feat—starting from scratch with students who have never been part of a major stage production. McClain got the ball rolling by teaching his cast the basics of acting: how to memorize lines, how to project their voices, how to deliver a joke.

“I’ve enjoyed bringing a little bit of musical theater culture into the school,” he said.

The students are enjoying it, too.

“It’s been a lot of fun seeing them grow as students committed to something bigger than themselves,” McClain said. “I told them it’s like being part of a team… that rehearsals are like preparing for a game and our final production is the playoff.”

Students also are reaping the residual benefit of new friendships. McClain said he’s seen students across grade levels strike up friendships that might not otherwise have happened, thanks to the melting pot nature of a musical production.

“Some have even gone together to see other schools’ productions,” he said.

In addition to the students’ enthusiasm, McClain appreciates the support he has received from parents, the Madison County Arts Council, and the community as a whole.

“Everyone has been so helpful to get this first musical off the ground,” he said.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 17-18 and 3:30 p.m. April 19. The show will take place in the high school/middle school auditeria.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at the door or reserved in advance by calling West Jefferson High School, (614) 879-7681, ext. 2300.

Lead roles

Playing lead roles in Jefferson Local Schools’ upcoming production of the musical “Grease” are:

Ilya Peshko (senior) as Danny

Rachael Brown (freshman) as Sandy

Molly Hiss (junior) as Rizzo

Caitlin Greer (junior) as Marty

Hope Schwind (freshman) as Jan

Keresa Murray (sophomore) as Frenchy

Andy Weber (freshman) as Roger

Patrick Krischak (freshman) a Doody

Sebastian Hart (senior) as Kenicke

Trey Milush (senior) as Sonny

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