Rockwall Heath High School’s Drama Club is in full swing rehearsing for their upcoming musical, "Grease," opening Jan. 9.
With 60 students making up the cast, 20 operating as technical staff, three faculty members overseeing the production, a different local celebrity performing the role of DJ Vince Fontaine each night of the run, an unofficial contest to see which celebrity guest brings in the biggest audience, and an NYU actor slated to play the part of the Teen Angel, putting it all together is no small feat.
“Scheduling is an issue for any large production,” said Glenn Bennett, RHHS Tech Director, who is directing the show. “Trying to accommodate 70-plus students and their conflicts is a huge hurdle, but nothing beyond the normal challenges.”
Bennett, who holds a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from McMurry University, and an MFA in Acting/Directing from Texas Tech, has seen it all before, and comes equipped with the experience and expertise required to see it through no matter what the time constraints.
“I chose "Grease" because of the draw the show has - the benefit of which is a larger audience base to see the types of productions we do here at Heath,” he said. “I’m also trying to expand the student base who takes part in the productions, and "Grease" brings out a much broader scope of student interest.”
One of the draws, of course, is the music and the dancing.
“This is such a classic musical,” said RHHS Choir Director Natalie McCollough who holds a degree in Music Education from TCU, has been at RHHS since 2005, and is celebrating her 14th year of teaching. “Who doesn’t love fifties music? The music is so great, story so full of high school ‘drama,’ and a love story on top of that…gotta love it.”
RHHS Dance Department Head and JV Drill Director, Anna Blair, who holds a BFA in Dance Performance from SMU and has been at RHHS since 2007, couldn’t agree more. “I am absolutely enjoying choreographing "Grease." The cast is a joy to work with and teach,” she said. “It has been a privilege to work with Glenn Bennett and Natalie McCollough. They are both extremely talented…such a fun and amazing project.”
The other draw, of course, are the three local celebrities filling in as the role of teen dance show host, DJ Vince Fontaine. Rockwall Mayor David Sweet, Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty, and RHHS Principal Dr. Tom Maglisceau will all get to play the part for one of the performances. An unofficial challenge to see which celebrity guest draws the biggest crowd on the night of their performance is part of the fun. It looks as though the competition is going to be a stiff one.
“I am excited about being involved,” said Rockwall Mayor David Sweet, performing the Friday night of the run. “I’m always amazed at the talent that we have in Rockwall schools. I just hope I don’t bring the show down!”
“My wife and I saw it on our honeymoon, and it has been one of my favorite shows since,” said Heath Mayor Lorne O. Liechty, Esq., performing Saturday night. “Given the talent we have at RHHS, I am sure this will be a thoroughly enjoyable show.”
“I’m excited to resume my acting career, making up for lost time since my last performance as the narrator of my school’s fifth grade production of "The Thanksgiving Story,”" said RHHS Principal Dr. Tom Maglisceau, gearing up for his opening night RHHS acting debut. “I’ve enjoyed doing improv with the kids in our theater classes, but this will be a whole different kind of fun, and I’m certain that my pathetic acting will help elevate the performance for all the students. I hear that they’re talking about offering a discount the evening of my appearance.”
In addition, a musical theater student from New York University, Brandon Nase, will be playing the part of the Teen Angel. “I first met him when he was a student at UNT majoring in music education,” said McCollough. “He is such a talented musician. We are so lucky to have him… he will add so much to this role.”
Performances are being held at the RHHS Performing Arts Center Jan. 9, 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. RHHS Principal Dr. Tom Maglisceau will perform at the Thursday night show, Rockwall Mayor David Sweet on Friday, and Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty on Saturday. Make sure you come out and support the local celebrity of your choice!
Tickets are $12; $10 for students.They will be sold by RHHS students beginning Jan. 6, and will also be available at the box office before each performance on a first-come first-serve basis. Flowers will be sold at all performances in support of the RHHS theater department. Make sure you buy a flower or bouquet for your favorite onstage or offstage star!
Story courtesy of Marcia Carroll Burzair and Mary Thacker