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Alexandria Central staging ‘Grease’

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — The squeaky wheels here have finally got their “Grease.”

For years, Alexandria Central School K-12 vocal music instructor Katie Taylor has fielded requests from students to stage “Grease,” the popular Broadway musical that premiered in 1972 and became a hit movie six years later starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

“But I had already done it in 2001, a couple of years after I started teaching here,” Mrs. Taylor said. “I kept saying I wasn’t ready to repeat the show yet. But they convinced me.”

The musical will be performed today, Friday and Saturday in the auditorium at Alexandria Central School, 34 Bolton Ave.

One of the students who requested the show was senior Christopher A. Vaphiadis, who plays Kenickie, the surly, sarcastic co-leader of the T-Birds. He has several comic lines.

“It’s easy for me to portray this role,” Mr. Vaphiadis said, laughing.

He said he’s been asking Mrs. Taylor to stage “Grease” “for about five years.”

“I think one of the cool things about this show, since Mrs. Taylor has done it in the past, is to see the difference between all of those years,” he said. “It was one of her first plays and this is my last.”

Mr. Vaphiadis said one of the attractions for the students is the “raunchiness” in “Grease.”

“This is one show where we can really get into our personalities and go deep into it,” Mr. Vaphiadis said.

Mrs. Taylor said it doesn’t matter what musical the district stages — it will feature quality performances that constantly suprise audiences.

“A lot of people say things to me like, ‘Gee, for a small school you guys really do a good job,’” she said. “That statement starts to get under my skin a little because we just have an amazing group of kids and talent. We can rival any of the big schools. People leave here with their jaws on the ground from what they’ve seen.”

Mrs. Taylor said the district’s pre-K to grade 12 enrollment is just under 600 students.

“We have 59 students in this show, 10 percent of our school population, representing grades 6 through 12,” she said.

“But apart from it being a real unifying thing for us in the student body, it’s a great thing for the community,” said senior Christopher Carrasquillo, who plays Sonny.

“The community looks forward to our shows every year,” he said. “We implore the community to some to see our shows to see what the students are doing and to see the things we’re capable of and how far we’ve come in the past 15 years or so.”

But it’s more than student body enthusiasm that make the musicals a success, Mrs. Taylor added.

“We have amazing helpers from our community,” she said.

For example, she mentioned her “set team” of Michael and Mary Witt of Alexandria Bay.

“Those two are a cornerstone of what makes our shows work,” she said. “They spend every waking hour, when they’re not working, here at the school or in their garage working on the set pieces and everything for the show.”

“Grease,” with book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, evokes the 1950s. Popular songs include “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightin’” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

“Grease” opens as the alumni of the class of 1959 of Rydell High School gather for a reunion. Flashbacks evoke memories of the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies, bad cafeteria coleslaw, and a new girl in town named Sandy Dumbrowski, played by Karissa McIlrath.

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The cast of “Grease” at Alexandria Central School:

Kyle Gorman is Danny, Karissa McIlrath is Sandy, Chris Vaphiadis is Kenicke, Amanda Lingenfelter is Rizzo, Chris Carrasquillo is Sonny, Molly Azone is Marty, Ben Nelson is Roger, Lauren Cobb is Jan, Gavin Taylor is Doody, Emily Thomas is Frenchy, Victoria Ciarfella is Miss Lynch, Karoline Nelson/Nisa Rivera are Patty, Jacob Hunneyman is Eugene, Zach Patterson is ‘Teen Angel’, Trenton Service is Johnny Casino, Emma Kearns is Cha-Cha and Ray Dickhaut is Vince Fontaine.

Dream girls/chorus: Rebecca Hitchcock, Bailey Rogers, Emily Massa, haley Heath, Frace felicia, Summer Williams and Rachelle Johnson.

The chorus: Kira Hollinger, Jovidan Rahmonov, Mecia Peterson, Trevor Jobson, Taylor Rodriguez, Ian McIlrath, Karlie Fancher, Alexandria Hansson, Alex DeLavergne, Chrystal Gray, Chet Sourwine, Jazzmyn Card, Alexis Phaby, Kira Grega, Colby Burrows, Gabrielle Connor, Kelsey Cullen, Deegan Shaffer, Marissa Ely, Emma Lynch, Kailee Knight, Colby Herrington, Emily Davis, Lacey Thomas, Donovin Sweetland, Stephanie Martin, Mackenzie Hyde, Iris Lower, Grace Goerger, Makayla Witt, Taydan Jeffers, Presley Donegan and Hayley Neuroth.

The “Grease pit” band: Dan Hammond, Claudia Kirkland, Robert Harvell, Adnrew Willis and Ron Sacci.

Stage crew: Michael and Mary Witt, Robert and Cindy Nelson, Betse Murphy, Elaine Goerger, Sam Vaphiadis and Tricia Aitcheson.

The details
WHAT: Alexandria Central School District presents “Grease”
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday in the auditorium at Alexandria Central, 34 Bolton Ave., Alexandria Bay
COST: Tickets are $6
OF NOTE: The production may contain material not suitable for younger audiences.
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