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Grease delights crowds despite rocky rehearsals

LAKE GEORGE Alex Winyall sat in front of the Lake George High School auditorium stage recently, reminiscing with five fellow Senior students about their experience as cast members of the school musical Grease which wowed the crowds the first weekend in April. The show had a worrisome, rocky beginning, they said. When rehearsals started in January, there were flubbed lines, forgotten melodies and ragged dance steps, the students recalled. Student Alec Winyall remembered the reactions from the legendary dramatist Mickey Luce, whos directed shows at Lake George and elsewhere regionally since 1969. As we were rehearsing, he stood up and said, At this point Im very worried this is not a good show! But only 10 weeks later, the show had tight comic timing, smooth choreography, tuneful singing and considerable chemistry between the actors, Luce recalled last week after the shows sellout performances. The musical production prompted plenty of accolades and attracted perhaps the largest audiences at Lake George High in about 20 years. These students did an outstanding job, perhaps the best school Grease production Ive been associated with, Luce said. They had an assuredness and confidence, you could see it in their posture and pose. Regardless of how the rehearsals started out, they didnt seem to be worried, Luce added. They just knew they were going to do very well. The Lake George students deflected the praise to Luce and musical director Catherine Reid. Seniors Alison Canavan and Cortland Brennan, who played Jan and Danny respectively, said the shows evolution from sickly to sensational was due to Luces directorial dynamism. He acts out the parts to demonstrate hes so animated, Brennan said. He could do the whole play by himself, Canavan added. Hes very passionate about his productions, and it makes it so much better for us that he has so much experience. Winyall added his thoughts. I guess it never gets old for him, he said. He has an incredible attitude and its fun to learn from him. The six students said part of the shows success was its casting, which put students in uncharacteristic roles. One self-assured student, Gary Zervas, was thrust into the unlikely role as a geek only two weeks before showtime, they said. Hes not a geek at all, and his portrayal brought down the house, Canavan said. Gary just stole the show. The live, five-piece band, which included students and teachers, added a lot to the shows success, the students said. Becky Kendall, who played Sandy, the female lead, said there were other challenges to the acting besides the short rehearsal schedule. Not the least of these challenges were the romantic scenes that called for her to repeatedly share passionate kisses with suave but cocky gang leader, Danny Zuko, played by Cortland Brennan. My best friend is dating Cortland, and his best friend is dating me, she said.

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