'Grease' is the word

Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Backstage before a Kenai Performers' dress rehearsal for "Grease," director Terri Zopf-Schoessler is tweaking the "Greased Lightnin'" convertible.

She lifts up the hatch showing holes in the trunk that will power the beater onstage.

"There's no engine. We totally Flintstones it," she says. "That's the magic of theater."

Zopf-Schoessler is aflutter fine-tuning stage directions, costumes and hairdos for the show's opening Friday.

"Oh my gosh vintage and the flippy hair, I love the flippy hair," she tells one actress seeking approval.

"Have your Miss Piggy moment," she instructs another, older cast member about hamming it up onstage.

For the next two weekends it's all leather jackets, bouffants and teenage dreams for the theater troupe at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium.

The musical is truly a community production with actors from four Peninsula high schools represented, more than 60 people onstage throughout the performance, and a different reason for everyone to come together for the theater.

"We range from ages 12 to 64," Zopf-Schoessler says, but the cast consists of "mostly teenagers and graduates." Twenty years ago she directed "Grease" at SoHi and some children from that cast are in this production.

Zopf-Schoessler points out Tracie Stang, whose sister was in the show 20 years ago, and explains that Stang graduated the year before the production but really wanted to be in it. Stang is now finally in the performance along with her daughter.

"I've always loved theater. I hadn't done a show in 20 years. My daughter and I wanted to do it together," she said. "It's her first experience in theater and it's fun to share it with her."

For Cole Chase-Cochrane performing in "Grease" as bad boy heartthrob Danny Zuko is a dream come true.

"I've always loved 'Grease,'" says the 17-year-old Kenai Central High School junior. "I just watched it all the time when I was little."

He said he enjoys the show's high-energy and stunt dancing during "Greased Lightnin.'"

"It's all smiles really," Chase-Cochrane said. "There's nothing really to frown on."

Those smiles from onstage could extend into the audience, as the production has something for everyone to enjoy.

"Grease" has bits for every player, Zopf-Schoessler said, from the mop-twirling janitor to the hip-swiveling Teen Angel

"I have really, really good actors," she said. "They're funny, they're talented and they're willing to do absolutely anything. I've never had a cast learn this fast ever."

Zopf-Schoessler said that providing a forum for the gifted artists in Alaska, especially on the Peninsula, to perform is what community theater is all about for her.

That and "it keeps us from going absolutely crazy during the winter," she said.

"Grease" plays Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Feb. 26, 27, 28 at Kenai Central High School's Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 3 p.m.

"You really need to come twice because there's that much going on onstage all the little details that add up to a spectacular production," she said. "Everybody gets to shine."

Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors, and are available in Kenai at Charlotte's, in Soldotna at River City Books, at Coffee Roasters in the Red Diamond Center, and at the door.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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