Lake Mills to present ‘Grease: School Version’ this week

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Many people are familiar with “Grease,” the 1978 movie starring John Travolta, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway and the late Olivia Newton-John. But there’s also a “Grease: School Version” musical, which will be performed Friday at Lake Mills Community School auditorium.

The show begins at 7 p.m., and there is also a free matinee at 1 p.m. Thursday for seniors and elementary students.

“‘Grease’ is a lot of fun,” said Linda Saxton, sixth- to 12th-grade vocal music director and musical director at the Lake Mills district. “It’s about high school kids, so [students] can relate to this.”

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To be clear, “Grease” and “Grease: School Version” are different, specifically language and song length, though they follow the same plot.

While admitting the show was based in a different era (1950s), so far there haven’t been any problems relating issues from over 60 years ago to the present, and Saxton said students have had a great time studying life back then. That included studying clothing, stereotypes and what life was life for high school students back then.

The experience of directing a musical is slightly new for Saxton, who grew up never having gone to one, and admitted she didn’t remember her first time seeing one either. In fact, this will be the second time she has directed a high school musical following “The Music Man” last year.

And while she admitted musicals were work and acknowledged how hard the students worked to help make the set and get costumes, she said they were worth it.

Being a vocalist, she knew many songs from musicals, and described the show as having great music and dancing along with a good storyline.

Saxton’s favorite moment of putting together “Grease: School Version” was a dress-rehearsal Monday following a six-hour dress-rehearsal Sunday, something she described as “grueling” but that left students knowing what to work on.

“The kids came back and rocked it [Monday] night,” she said.

And this experience has taught her students were willing to rise to a challenge if given the opportunity and enjoy pretending to be people who weren’t themselves.

Finley Rogstad, a senior, plays Sandy Dumbrowski, someone she described as mostly being pure, innocent and shy before undergoing a bold character transformation.

Rogstad was familiar with the movie and admitted to enjoying musicals.

“When I was 9, … I would get Barbie dolls of them and watch the movie and reenact them with my dolls,” she said.

Rogstad has previously been in “Shrek the Musical,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Music Man.”

Senior Holden Maher plays Danny Zuko.

“I had seen the John Tavolta one a couple of times,” he said, admitting the movie was “pretty out there.”

But he was still excited after learning Lake Mills was doing the show.

His favorite part of the experience was making new friends and coming together as a choir.

Aidan Benny, a sophomore, plays Roger, who in the original movie was Putzie.

“I was a little surprised, especially when it came to this musical, because so far every other musical I had before I was a gruff, stubborn fatherly-figure.”

In fact, while watching the show in class he thought he would be playing a different character, and admitted the transition was a big change for him.

“Roger is practically the embodiment of a class clown,” he said. “He’s a anything-for-a-laugh kind of guy.”

Junior Laurian VanCannon plays Jan, someone VanCannon described as being funny and shy and who was always eating.

“I have a Twinkies I’m going to be eating during a scene,” she said. “I’m eating an apple and I might bring something else on the stage at some point.”

Just don’t expect her to perform any of the dancing with food in hand.

Unlike Rogstad and Maher, VanCannon did not have any previous knowledge of “Grease” before seeing it in class.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” she said. “I like the songs that they sang and it gives you a vision into how it was like back in the 1950s.”

“This is a great night for family-friendly entertainment,” Saxton said. “Most of us probably don’t remember exactly what ‘Grease’ was about but remember the fun, and the school version of ‘Grease’ is rated G.”

Auditions for the cast were held in January, while rehearsals have been happening since the end of the winter break.

Tickets are $5 each and will be available in the chorus room at Lake Mills Community School from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and, should they be available, at the door.

Danny Zuko: Holden Maher
Sandy Dumbrowski: Finley Rogstad
Kenickie: Caden Mattern
Roger: Aidan Benny
Sonny Latierri: Jayzek Charlson
Doody: Alejandro Vazquez Perez
Betty Rizzo: Kyla Johanson
Frenchy: Chaelinn Barbour
Marty: Natalie Brandenburg
Jan: Laurian VanCannon
Paty Simcox: Avah Klebsch
Cheerleaders: Ava Menke, Maddie Mannes, Allison Rygh, Gracie Pederson
Eugene Florczyk: Geraldo Vazquez Perez
Miss Lynch: Sara Nelson
Vince Fontaine: Lucas Humphrey
Johnny Casino/Teen Angel: Chike Ikefuama
Cha-Cha DiGregorio: Emily Thoma
Soloist: Allison Rygh
Movie Actors: Maddie Paton, Kevin Wesenberg, Will Humphrey, Micah Roberts