Merely Players re-creates '50s in `Grease'

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Arundel Live

April 08, 2005|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With its production of Grease, the Merely Players troupe adheres to its credo of giving opportunities to experienced and inexperienced young actors.

Based at the Chesapeake Arts Center in northern Anne Arundel County, the Players take the audience back to Rydell High's Class of '59 in this classic musical.

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease was an instant hit on Broadway in 1972 and a memorable movie in 1978 and again in 1998 during the film's 20th anniversary revival.

Grease re-creates the 1950s teen scene with the story of sweet, innocent Sandy Olsson and Rydell High's bad boy, Danny Zuko. They engage in a summer romance before Sandy enrolls in the school and discovers that Danny is not quite what he seemed. Ultimately, Danny must choose between maintaining his tough-guy image and his relationship with Sandy.

The Merely Players production is directed by Kevin Wheatley, who has directed shows for Severna Park Middle and High schools, the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, and the Children's Theatre of Annapolis.

The production team includes Ronnie Schronce as assistant director and his wife, Katy, as choreographer. Marsha Goldsmith is the music director, and Debra Engler serves as production manager, considering herself "a proud mother of 30" cast members.

At Saturday's rehearsal at Chesapeake Arts Center's dance studio in Brooklyn Park, assistant director Schronce told the actors, "We're on a good track."

The cast is headed by Jon Nuckols of Annapolis, who was Bernardo in last spring's West Side Story and plays Danny this spring. The role demands singing, dancing and enough acting skill to convince the audience he is insecure and self-conscious beneath his tough exterior. "Before I've played older roles, and this is my first kid role," Nuckols said at rehearsal.

Pasadena resident Katie Gardner, who has performed at the Children's Theatre of Annapolis, takes on the role of Sandy. Noting her recent role as Adelaide in CTA's Guys and Dolls, Gardner said, "I'm used to playing more sophisticated roles, so I worked hard to be Sandy. But I love every minute of this show."

Others cast members include: Ashley Burke, Katie Catevenis, Andrew Lincoln, Kelsey Berdquez, Lindsay Bell, Zander Roell, Brandon Hendrickson, Shana Weiner, Ben Heemstra, Josh Riffle, Ryan Connor, Loghan Bazan, Maureen Rogers, Pat McPartlin, Sandy Martini, Sara Collison, Steve Love and Samantha Thornhill.

Grease runs April 15-24 at Chesapeake Arts Center's main theater with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, or $12 for CAC and Merely Players members and children 12 and under. Reservations: 410-636-6597.

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