Sunlake Dramahawks Perform 'Grease'
Three performances planned at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High School.
The Sunlake High School Dramahawks will perform their biggest play ever at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High School this weekend.
The students are set to perform “Grease” Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 a person and seating is general admission. Tickets are still available and will go on sale one hour before the play starts and doors open 30 minutes before.
Carla Nolan, drama director, said she wanted to put on “Grease” because it is something everyone knows. Shelly Roswell also helped direct the play.
“We chose ‘Grease’ to try to make a big splash,” Nolan said. “It is also great because we can get such a large cast and crew. The play will be pretty close to the movie. We even got special permission from the man who owns the music from the movie to use three songs. It is a little different from the movie, but it is still the same story of boy meets girl.”
Even though this is not the first play for the students at Sunlake, it is their first on a real stage. Previously all their performances were on tables that were put together to make a stage.
“They are working with real professional lighting and sound,” Nolan said. “This is a great experience for those kids who want to go on to a career.”
The two main characters are no strangers to the stage. Both have been in a few plays before.
Jose Menendez, a senior, hopes he is on his way to becoming a big star. He earned the lead role of Danny and wants to one day be on the big screen.
“When I was growing up, my aunts and uncles always loved the movie,” Menendez said. “So ever since I was a kid I have loved that movie. I feel like I really know the character. I am so excited and ready for this. We have put in so much work and I can’t wait for people to see what we have done.”
Savannah Duris, a junior, plays the part of Sandy. She said she is very similar to her character because Sandy is a girly girl and so is she.
“I like how sweet she is,” Duris said. “She wears all pink and pink is my favorite color. I think when people come out to see this, they will see a lot of people they didn’t expect.”
Cathy Lorenzo, a sophomore, is Rizzo. She and Duris are best friends so she said it is all acting when they are mean to each other.
“I have to pretend to hate her and that is the best part,” Lorenzo said. “I try to think of things that make me angry like I hate fake people. So I pretend that I think her goody two-shoes act is fake. Actually, I love her character because she is so naive.”
Ashley Raasch, a sophomore, plays Marty. She said she was very excited to get the part.
“I am trying to put myself in her shoes,” Raasch said. “I want to interpret her character in my way, but still keep it her. I like how she flirts with people. She is much bolder than I would be. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be an actress. I love how it brings people together.”
Some characters like Kenickie, played by senior Hayden Baker, are nothing like the people they are portraying while others seem to be the perfect fit like senior Hope Boyd. She is playing the part of Frenchy.
“We are a lot alike,” Boyd said. “She is always smiling and so bubbly and so am I. I also change my hair color every few weeks. This play is going to be such a success and I am so happy to be a part of it.”
Baker is co-president of the drama club with fellow senior Ben Potter.
“I am stepping out of my personality to play the tough guy role,” Baker said. “I have been with the drama club since the beginning and I am really proud to see how far it has progressed. This will be our first time performing on a big stage and that is a really great feeling.”
Katie Walters, a sophomore, is playing the part of one of the Pink Ladies. She said ever since she heard the next musical would be “Grease” she has been watching the movie over and over.
“I watched it all summer long,” Walters said. “I worked on the song ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ with my music coach and I can probably recite the entire movie. I love the characters and the singing. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John are so amazing. I want to be on Broadway or something close to it when I get older.”
Aaron Caracciolo, a senior, is Doody. He said he is planning to become a director one day.
“We have never really acted on a big stage before,” Caracciolo said. “This is going to be so much bigger with bigger props and more sets. We will get to appeal to a much larger audience.”
In order to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing, students interpreters will sign the whole play. Rhonda Leslie, American Sign Language (ASL) teacher at Sunlake, said her students have been working very hard.
“I really believe we should make our community more ASL friendly,” Leslie said. “The students had to do a lot of work and learn words they didn’t know. This is good for them too because they are taking the learning outside of the classroom.”
"Grease" will also feature a live band playing the music. Parker Wilkson is the young prodigy working on the play. He is a seventh-grader at Charles S. Rushe Middle School and he is playing the piano.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Wilkson said. “I am really glad to be a part of this. I want to be in drama when I get older.”
Nolan said she got a lot of help from the administration and the staff. She wants everyone to come and see the play.
“For $5 you are not going to get better entertainment anywhere,” Nolan said. “If you are looking for a fun and uplifting evening where you can see teenagers at their very best then you should come see the show.”
The Center for the Arts is located at 30651 Wells Rd. in Wesley Chapel.