What: “Grease,” an Eastmont musical
Where: Eastmont High School, 905 8th St. NE, East Wenatchee
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22-23, March 1-2
Cost: $12 adults, $7 students
Information: pacwen.org, 663-2787
Cast: Ross Gavin (Danny) and Emily Abbott (Sandy), Laura Brown, Iain Canup, Allison Drescher, Amanda Everett, Buddy Goodrich, Micah Hartmann, Kaileen Hodjerney, Michaela Lantzy, Selena Martinez, Megan McCart, Elizabeth Medina, Alexandrea Nessi, Andrey Perez, Bradyn Rookard, Zach Savage, Stephanie Seiber, Emma Standerford, Tristan Thompson, Sean Ward and Cutter Wurl.
Director: Cynthia Brown
Musical director: Tara Abbott
Choreographer: Allison Drescher
EAST WENATCHEE —Behind the ’50s hoop skirts and black leather jackets, the narrow corridors backstage at Eastmont High School are scrawled with advice from decades of theater students long graduated.
“Get out there! Try everything!” Katie Johnson wrote on a brick. “Throw regret out the window.”
“I’ll be a playwright yet!” wrote Buddy Klein, signed “The Emperor” in black marker.
Those bricks will be torn down this summer during a massive school remodel. But first, the drama program will perform one last musical on the old stage, “Grease.” For nostalgia’s sake, this year’s seniors are determined to pull out all the stops.
“It’s a bittersweet magic that this will be our last time on this stage, and for some of us on it will be the last time on any high school stage,” said senior Allison Drescher, the show’s choreographer.
“Our productions may not be as big, and we might not have as many dollars to spend but we’re going to make it the best we can, and we take a lot of pride in what we do,” she said.
Enter Greased Lightning, a car bound to be a star of the show. Parents and volunteers painted flames on a red Geo Metro and fitted it with foam fins. The car is small enough to lift up the backstage stairs, but only an inch and a half narrower than the stage door.
A dancer since age 3, Drescher taught the cast elaborate group dance numbers with flashy flips, aerial stunts and snappy swing moves.
While Drescher runs choreography, sophomore Sierra Fries is in charge backstage, managing the crew, cast and all the little details. The sound and lights are also coordinated by students.
Relatively few adults are involved — just director Cynthia Brown, musical director Tara Abbott, costume designer Vicki Michael and a set crew of parents and family.
“I try to use students wherever possible because it’s training, and that’s where the value is,” Brown said. “Once you tell them that they’re expected to do it every bit as good as an adult, and it’s not going to be easy, at first they feel like they’re in over their head, but it makes them go above and beyond.”
Eastmont hired Brown last year after Mark Wavra ended his 15-year tenure running the drama program. Brown was the director behind the Haunted Pressroom Theater, the dinner theater series at Clearwater Steakhouse and most recently “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
She heard about the position through parents who knew her from the drama program she taught at Eastmont Junior High a few years ago. Some of her former students are now seniors in “Grease.”
“We’ve been talking about doing ‘Grease’ since eighth grade, but we never thought it would happen,” said Emily Abbott, a senior who plays one of the leads, Sandy.
She sees this year’s production as a way to build on the momentum created with Eastmont’s grand alumni-staff-student musical last year “Bye Bye Birdie.”
“I feel like this program has been growing,” Abbott said. “I remember after ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ I heard people saying it was the first time they had ever seen Eastmont do a big musical. Each year it seems to get bigger and better.”
Seniors make up half the cast and several said they still plan to write on the bricks, even if only few will ever read what they have to say. The new stage and auditorium is expected to open August 2014, with new lights and sound, dressing rooms and better acoustics.
“It’s a pretty special feeling that this will go down in history as the last show on this stage,” Abbott said. “I think we are all trying to put as much into it as we can so we can go out strong.”
Rachel Hansen: 664-7139