Gearing up for Grease | SierraSun.com
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Gearing up for Grease

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunKatie Salpas, playing Cha Cha DiGregorio, and Jonathan Riley, playing Danny Zuko, dance during a dress rehearsal for Grease Wednesday. The performance opens today.
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High school students dancing and crooning to live rock n roll while clad in leather jackets and poodle skirts will perform in Truckee High Schools fifteenth annual spring musical.While the same show is experiencing a revival on Broadway 36 years after its first run, Truckee Highs drama club and band will team up for seven performances of Grease. And during a song run-through last month, some of the 70-plus student crew received an inspirational visit from the second actress to ever play the lead role.They were fantastic, said Pam Doucette, who played Sandy Dumbrowski, or Sandra Dee, in the first national tour of the musical in 1972. The opening number gave me goosebumps.Doucettes touring theatre company included Marilu Henner, and Jeff Conaway, from televisions Taxi and an 18-year-old John Travolta, she said.I was so excited, said Samantha Marsh, 17-year-old junior playing the part for Truckees production. Its every girls dream to meet Sandy.The 60-year-old retired actress, who previously owned a second home in Carnelian Bay is a long-time friend of Jim Sturtevant, the director of Truckees incarnation of the play.Like Doucette, the Tahoe Forest Hospital supervisor is a retired professional actor. He ran a non-profit youth theatre company in Tahoe-Truckee but closed shop after ten years in 2004, he said.We got tried of not having a [professional] venue to perform in, Sturtevant said.The biggest challenge for Sturtevant, he said, was coordinating the 45 actors and 20 technical and stage crew and their families to meet for rehearsals that started three months ago. Sturtevant, whose son plays Doody, also directed last years musical Hello Dolly.With 23 dance numbers and the same amount of songs choreographer Sherrie Peterson and vocal director Jan Sturtevant said it was difficult to instill confidence in the 45-member cast.Half of them never had a dance class, Peterson said.But the twirling pink ladies and strutting greasers never let on, according to Doucette.It is so good to see that many kids on stage and all of their enthusiasm, she said. I was impressed with the choreography.Besides singing and dancing, Truckees version features a flying teen angel, a real car for the greased lightning song and a live rock n roll orchestra led by instructor of fine arts Dave Green.He said the drama students, many of whom are in band class as well, participate in four major theatrical events per year. A fall play, a childrens Christmas piece, a regional dramatics competition and the spring musical.Getting the band to play rock n roll in time and tune with the performers on stage has been a challenge, Green said. The band regularly practices skipping around the score to be prepared for a skipped verse by an on-stage performer, he said.Green is confident that his band will be ready for anything come opening night Friday, he said. On a break from her first dress rehearsal Shelby Lewis, 17 year-old senior, who plays Betty Rizzo, echoed Greens optimism.You always wished you has one more month, but after this rehearsal our confidence level is up were ready.


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