southtownstar
DYNAMIC 
Weather Updates

Petzel: Oak Lawn students ‘take charge’ during ‘Grease’ performance

Updated: December 12, 2012 6:09AM



Greetings fellow Oak Lawnians!

If you were lucky enough to get tickets to Oak Lawn Community High School’s production of “Grease,” you’re probably still talking about how great it was.

The sold-out performances, which ran from Oct. 25 to 27, featured an amazing and talented cast and crew. Billy Denton, head drama coach at the high school, is obviously very proud of his students and their performance.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” Denton said. “Those students take charge of the play, and they definitely exceed expectations. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Tickets for the show “were in extremely high demand,” Denton said. He estimates that “Grease” was performed for an audience of approximately 2,000, which includes the free performances for senior citizens and students and staff earlier that week, and the three sold-out performances.

Planning for “Grease” got under way back in May.

“I saw which students were coming back next year,” Denton said. “Some only had minor roles previously, and we wanted to give them their shot in ‘Grease’ and give as many students as possible the opportunity to be part of it. By late July, I was picking up steam rereading scripts, watching the movie version and thinking about what I wanted the set to look like.”

The production required a rather large cast, so tryouts started just two weeks into the school year.

“Over 120 students tried out — the biggest turnout in my 10 years teaching at the school,” Denton said. “By the third week of school, we hit the ground running.”

Even after the cast of 61 students was selected, another 40 to 50 students were needed for the crew, which plays a vital role in the success of the show.

Denton said practicing for the show “was very different because there was so much singing and dancing. It was very physical.”

Students practiced three days a week for five weeks, then four days a week with the lighting and set.

Marcus and Jennifer Wargin, technical directors for the production, came up with the unique set — a giant juke box featuring all the “Grease” songs, which would light up when a particular song was being performed.

The cast, choreography, set design and singing were exceptional. Solos by Emily Salomone (Sandy) singing “Hopelessly Devoted;” Rocky Martin (Doody) singing “Those Magic Changes;” and Vincent Olejniczak (Kenickie) singing “Greased Lightning” took the audience back in time to their own high school days. Taylor Lindemann (Danny) and Jenna Hurckes (Rizzo) were inimitable.

Denton said he always encourages ideas and feedback from the students.

“We absolutely empower the students with all our shows,” he said. “They took their characters on as their own.”

So much so that some cast members were asked for their autographs.

Denton said the students were “very pleased with their performance and the production. They felt like they had something special.” He said he especially enjoyed watching the reaction of the crowd, which he said “was over the top” and how they interacted with the cast during different scenes, particularly the singing and choreography for “Hand Jive.”

Congratulations on a job well done to cast and crew members, the production staff, Denton, Oak Lawn Community High School and, of course, the parents who always play a critical role in the success of these productions.

Celebrity announcements

Mark and Laura Dynia send Sweet 16th birthday wishes to their daughter, Sarah. Happy 19th birthday to Sterling Weston from his parents, Debbie and Rick; Porter, Emma, Cocoa and family. Shannon Matthews’ husband, Chris, and their family wish her a happy 26th birthday.

Happy birthday to Natasha Gornik, from her parents, Kathy and Len, family and Solo. Anne Marie Casey’s husband, John, wishes her a happy birthday. Birthday wishes go out to Wyo Petzel (yes, we’re related), from Erica, his parents, Margaret and Bill, Patrick and family.

Happy birthday to Bob McCarville, from Barb, their family and friends. Best wishes to Bob Goldsmith on his 85th birthday from his 7:30 a.m. “rosary friends.”

Wedding anniversary wishes go out to Nicole and Kevin Burbano on their fourth anniversary; Roy and Nancy Bubel on their 40th anniversary, from their children, Kelly, Brian and Holly, Roy’s mother, Bernice, and family; Norbert and Marge Randich on their 50th anniversary; Dick and Marilyn Slaninka, who are celebrating their 51st anniversary; and Henry and Rosina Skaggs on their 63rd anniversary.

Santa’s coming to the Village Green from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 24, so take the kiddies and family to see him and enjoy the fun Christmas festivities that are planned.

Keep your fellow Oak Lawnians informed about birthdays, special events or special “stuff” going on with your family or within the community. Call me at (708) 899-9544.

Until next time ...



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.