CRANFORD—For over 25 years, Community Actors Student Theatre (C.A.S.T.) has held its summer programs at the David Brearley High School in Kenilworth. So when board member/producer/director Karyn Mack of the community-based program for students heard that the Kenilworth school was not available this summer, a moment of panic ensued.
“C.A.S.T. was faced with a big challenge when we heard that David Brearley was closing for the summer. We are very grateful to the administration of Cranford High School for allowing us to use their facilities to rehearse and perform our production. As a team, we made it through the hurdles of being in a new space and are looking forward to a great production of Grease by our very talented cast and crew,” she said.
Grease, with music, lyrics and book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, featuring songs “Summer Nights”, “We Go Together”, “Freddy My Love” and “Beauty School Dropout,” will be presented on July 30, 31 and August 1 at the Cranford High School, 201 West End Place. The curtain parts in the air-conditioned auditorium at 7:30 nightly with $10 tickets available at the door or by reserving them through www.castinfo.org.
With a gigantic cast of students, ages 10 – 22, this summer production of Grease also poses possible obstacles for choreographer Alicia Dominguez who plays Jan, one of the “Pink Ladies.”
“We have, I think, about 68 people in the cast, so that is definitely a challenge,” she said. “Karyn [Mack] does all the blocking and staging of numbers with the leads while I choreograph all of the dance numbers.”
Area students are taking the leads in the all-Union County production.
Kenilworth resident Christine Nelson, a junior at Westminster Choir College at Rider University with a voice performance and music theater major, plays Rizzo. “Rizzo is sarcastic, which is a bit of a stretch for me, but I can get nasty when it’s called for,” she said.
Playing Doody, one of the “Burger Palace Boys” is Tom Kurzman, fellow Kenilworth resident, and sophomore at Adelphi University with a Technical Theater & Design major.
Kristen Olsen of Roselle Park takes the role of Sandy, a naïve teen who does what she can to fit in to new surroundings. Although the character Sandy acquiesces to peer pressure by the end of the musical, Kristen, who will be a senior at the Magnet School in Scotch Plains in the fall, says “I would never change myself for a guy!”
Sandy’s love interest in the show is Danny Zucko played by Garwood resident Matthew Weisser, astrophysics major at Rutgers. He says his biggest challenge in the show is “a lot of intricate 50s choreography that I’m not used to.”
Cast members include preteens who are just learning about theater and expression on stage. Westfield resident Mia Pafumi, who plays Marty, is a four-year-veteran of these productions. Her younger sister Marie-Elena Pafumi, who will be a fifth grader this fall, is excited to be in a show with her big sister. Mia said, “I’m really in the show for her this year. I wanted her to have the fun and experience I have gained from this program. C.A.S.T. has done phenomenal things for me as a performer.”
Mia’s boyfriend, Union resident Tony Mowatt, is a sophomore at Kean in their theater program. He said he realizes the importance of the experience for all of the students, no matter what their background in coming into this program. “There is a wide gap of ages in this theater group—it’s an experience that will be educational theater, not just entertaining,” he said.
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