EXETER — When Wyoming Area Drama Club Director Sarah Pellegrini was a freshman student at the school in 2004, her first acting performance with the club was in the musical “Grease.”
Now, everything is coming full circle as her four-year tenure as the club’s director will come to a close when her students perform the same musical Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 17 in the secondary center auditorium.
“I thought this would be a good one to go out on as it was the one that started everything for me,” Pellegrini said. “I have some career opportunities and I would like to go to grad school, and I think this is the time to explore new options. Maybe in a couple years I’ll come back, but for now, this is what we’re doing.”
Set in 1959, “Grease” follows high school bad boy Danny Zuko and summer love interest Sandy Olsson as they unknowingly attend the same high school.
Songs the students sing include “Summer Nights,” “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “There Are Worse Things I Can Do,” “Born to Hand Jive,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “Grease: Sandy.”
Pellegrini said the greatest difficulty of bringing the musical to the small stage was getting her students to understand older references, as the the film is almost 40 years old.
“It’s difficult, especially because of the cultural differences so there were some things that needed to be explained and researched,” she said. “But, I think because it’s so classic and it has such a name for itself everybody had an understanding of what they were undertaking before they went into it.”
Due to the success of the drama club’s performance of “Beauty and the Beast,” Pellegrini saw a huge boost in new drama students and decided to have her students perform “Grease” so it would feature as many performers as possible.
“I knew picking something with a bigger cast would be a smart choice for us,” she said. “We ended up with about 70 students just on stage alone.”
On top of the 70 on-stage performers, Pellegrini said 30 students will be helping out backstage, giving her 100 students altogether working on the play.
One of the students on stage is senior Ian Dobosh, who will portray Zuko.
Dobosh, 18, has never been in the spotlight of the leading role in a play, but his inexperience didn’t impact his decision to take on the role.
“It was exciting of the idea of having a lead role and being a lead guy,” said Dobosh. “I’ve always enjoyed the soundtrack to ‘Grease’ and it was really exciting to sing all of the solo songs and all of the songs in general. I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be. I’m working as hard as I can on it, and I’m hoping that it turns as great as I’m hoping it to be.”
Zuko was brought to life on the big screen by John Travolta, whom Dobosh said he will try his best to emulate.
“I’ve been trying to get a good mix to how John Travolta did it and how Aaron Tveit did it in ‘Grease Live,’” he said. “I’m going to try (to copy Travolta’s accent) but I’m not very good with accents.”
Junior Emily Uritz, a veteran member of the drama club, plays the role of Betty Rizzo, leader of the Pink Ladies group.
Rizzo is a bit of a mean character Uritz, 17, admitted, but she said art can imitate life in this instance.
“It’s not that hard because I’m not that nice,” she joked. “It’s not a stretch.”
Uritz has been in the drama club since she was in the seventh grade. She said her ability to portray various character traits has developed with the experience she’s gained from all of her years acting.
“I’ve been here forever,” Uritz said. “This is my favorite place ever, and I love doing drama club.”
The two students know there is an immense amount of pressure on them to please the audience, but Dobosh said it fuels him.
“It’s definitely a motivator,” he said. “We’re definitely keeping up the excitement and doing everything we can.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher