Grease has the right stuff

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    VERNON-The Highland Stage's summer youth production of the 1950's rock musical "Grease" is slated for the next two weekends at Vernon Township High School. The stage is resting its hopes on a motivated and talented cast, and a professional staff, which this summer enjoys the fresh talent of choreographer Renee Ziegler. Ziegler joins veteran director Heather Hamilton, professional musical director Faith Anderson, experienced costumer Beth Fielding, capable technical director and designer Eric Delhauer, and founder and producer Bill Donald. The cast of over 40 young people is led by Rachel Heintz, Emilio Tirri, Kelly Barfoot, and Rich Sireno. The addition of Ziegler has added creativity and zip, both to the dance numbers and to the movement associated with all musical numbers. The diminutive dancer is a teacher and co-director of the Ziegler Dance Centre. She has choreographed award-winning pieces for her Z Dance Troupe. She is an award-winning dancer herself, having won both state and national titles in various competitions. Ziegler has previously choreographed "Peter Pan" and "Me And My Girl" for Entr'acte Theatre Ensemble. Her work has also contributed to several valuable charity efforts, including heading up an evening of song and dance to raise funds for 9/11 victims. Director Hamilton applies her acting skills to numerous productions for The Highland Stage and for Rainbow Theatre, a professional company. She has a bachelors in theatre from Rowan University, serves as the associate producing director for The Highland Stage, and has directed numerous successful shows for the company. For its eight-year existence, she has directed all of the summer youth productions. Music director Anderson is best known as a professional singer-actress in a variety of venues. She performs in several musical revues and the musical "I Do, I Do" for Rainbow Theatre, and is playing the lead in the Theatre for Young Audiences touring production of "The People Garden," produced by SandCastle Productions. She headlines the Faith Anderson and the Chessmen band, for which she both sings and plays the trumpet. She teaches voice privately. Fielding has costumed several youth productions for The Highland Stage, and was for many years a costumer for the Montclair Light Opera Company. Delhauer works numerous calls for the professional stage hands' union at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. A Rutgers graduate, he has served as technical director for other Highland Stage productions. The character of Danny Zuko is played by Emilio Tirri of Wallkill Valley High School. This young man has performed in previous productions of "Grease" and "The Music Man" at Wallkill High, and won a talent show in the seventh grade for doing impersonations. Fellow Wallkill standout Rachel Heintz plays Danny's girlfriend, Sandy, a role she is repeating from the Wallkill High production. She also performed in Wallkill's "The Music Man." She has been studying voice at the Phoenix School of the Arts, has won numerous karaoke contests, has sung in numerous fundraisers, and once performed on stage with Shania Twain in Madison Square Garden. As she explains, "I was holding a sign saying, ‘I want to sing with you' and she invited me to the stage where we sang one song together." Heintz wants to go to college in the Nashville area where she would like to launch a country music recording career. Veteran Vernon High performer Kelly Barfoot plays the role of the tough but caring Rizzo. She has performed in eight Vernon High productions, and six more with The Highland Stage. She was the wicked witch in last year's summer show, "The Wizard Of Oz." She has won two acting awards and one makeup award at the New Jersey state theatre events, and has extensive vocal music credits. She will major in theatre this fall at Montclair State University. Rizzo's counterpart, Kenicki, is played by Vernon's Rich Sireno, a product of the Vernon High four-year acting curriculum, and a former Honor Thespian there, where he garnered several acting awards. He is a communications major and theatre minor at Ramapo College, and a drummer in a rock band. The cast of over 40 also includes a host of performers in supporting roles. Among these are Charissa Hom, Jen Lamonica, Joe Breed, Aly Docherty, Ginny Bosch, Emily Sireno, Reiko Goodwin, Brittany Beattie, Matt Tiberi, Scott Wentzell, Amanda Cohen, Carlos Cabrera, and David Rolando. "It reminds me of a production of ‘Brigadoon' I directed a long time ago. The cast was filled with leading performers and singers in supporting and chorus spots, who contributed immense talent selflessly to generate a wonderful overall show," said Donald. "The show is strong from stage left to stage right," said director Hamilton. "This is Summer Youth Theatre, and everyone's contribution counts equally." "Grease" will be performed in the Vernon Township High School air-conditioned auditorium on Friday, July 29, Saturday, July 30, Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday Aug. 6, at 8 p.m., with an additional matinee on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. General admission is $10. For further information or ticket reservations call 973-875-3039.