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Students to make 'Grease' the word in SEHS musical

Paying homage to the catchy, upbeat songs of the 1950s at the birth of rock 'n' roll are the South Elgin High School students putting on the musical "Grease." Leads include Joelle Kasprisin of Bartlett as Sandy, Nick LaMore of Streamwood as Danny, Haley Panico of South Elgin as Rizzo, and Bradley Smith of Wayne as Kenickie.

“While set in the 1950s, 'Grease' is really a musical about the struggles and rebellions that most teenagers experience," says staging director and SEHS English teacher Carrie Crowe. "This is why the show has remained popular. Anybody who has experienced the teen years in American culture can identify with the show’s plot line.

"The characters in Grease are stereotypes of the cliques that have existed in high school for six decades: the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, the outcast, the spinster teacher," she says, noting she thinks today’s students are better at transcending those roles.

To prepare for the musical, Crowe and Music Director Karen Brhel, the SEHS orchestra and choir director, asked the leads to do research on 1950s attitudes, fads, dress and hair styles, and report to the rest of the cast, which spent several rehearsals practicing movements and gestures of the period. Brhel and Mary Crum, costume director, worked to find just the right costumes. Crum held a “Poodle Party” one day after rehearsal, so students could make their own poodle skirts.

One of the greatest challenges has been to position all 100 singers, dancers and players of the huge cast, so each student can have his or her moment on stage. Organizers say the audience will enjoy seeing how many students are featured in addition to the leads. Students are from a variety of communities, including West Chicago.

Music will be provided by an on-stage, five-piece combo directed by Brhel. The choreography has been created by Renee Heitman. Student directors are Luz Almanza and Kiela Saucedo.

Karen Almanza and Justin Santostefano, two students from the SEHS broadcast communications academy, filmed an original movie in the style of 1950s horror flicks, which will be shown in the drive-in movie scene.

South Elgin High School is known for its musicals, and Crowe and Brhel have had a long and fruitful collaboration. "Grease" is their seventh musical as co-directors. But Crowe is quick to say, “We could not accomplish this without the assistance of many dedicated, creative and willing parents.”

This year, parents are busy finding costumes and props, creating sets, selling tickets, handling concessions, and setting up and staffing the Ice Cream Parlor, which will be an added attraction in the foyer between Saturday’s matinee and evening shows.


Performances will begin at 7 p.m.  Thursday and Friday, Feb. 28 and March 1, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday March 2, at 760 E. Main St. Tickets cost $10 for adults, and $8 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets in advance, contact Carrie Crowe at 847-289-3760, Ext. 3409, or

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