The Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) Harlequin Drama Club has rehearsed, studied the movie, the characters, and the play performed eight years ago. Now they are ready for lights to shine bright on the stage as they perform “Grease” to a full house for the second time tonight.
Eight years ago, under the tutelage of drama teacher James Hodgson, the Harlequin’s performed “Grease” in the gym. There was no real stage, and they were very limited to props and how much space they had.
Hodgson said the productions finally feel more normal now that they can be performed in the auditorium that was built a few years ago.
“It was very difficult to make it what we wanted it to be. Now that we have been given the tools, we are going as far as we want to go with it,” he said.
With the new facilities, they can bring in props like the 1967 Corvette that fills the role of “Greased Lightning.”
Lexi De Anda, who played Frenchie eight years ago, was at a recent dress rehearsal to watch her brothers who are in the play this year. She said it was very interesting seeing the play done on this level, compared to how it was done in the gym.
“They are doing really well,” De Anda added.
Hodgson enjoys teaching and training the students to not only act, but also sing and dance.
“I take them to another level. Once they get there, I give them ownership of the play.”
He lets them choose what amount of energy and enthusiasm they want to put into their roles and the production.
Harlequin members are involved with every facet of the production. Not only do they have to act, sing and dance, but they do a lot of tasks that are behind the scene.
The crew staff is in charge of music, lighting, sound and backstage. Production staff members take charge of stage management, props, costumes, and construction. A member of the staff is even assigned to marketing the play.
Members help with building, painting, putting together costumes, and much more. This year, the group had help with painting by Joe Hernandez from Mission Junior High. He airbrushed most of the props that will be seen in “Grease.”
For major productions, seniority gets the first call at roles. Others are encouraged to try out and show what they can do.
In this year’s production, Mike De Anda plays Danny Zuko, Elizabeth Davis plays Sandy, Giselle Gonzalez plays Rizzo, Marco De Anda plays Kenickie, Anna Olivarez is playing Jan, Beto Cantu is Roger, Brianna Salinas brings Frenchie to the stage, and Fernando Mercado is Sonny La Tierri.
Sara Longoria plays Marty, Doody is played by Raul Gonzalez, Marissa Lopez plays Patty Simcox, Eugene is performed by Charlie Bazaldua, Orlando Olivarez plays Vince Fontaine, Miss Lynch is played by Claudia Zapata, and Cha-Cha DiGregorio is performed by Marisol Cervantes.
Fernando and Mike De Anda remember watching their sister performing “Grease” eight years ago. They also had a chance to refer back to the DVD of the performance to see how it was done and the difference they are able to bring to the stage this time.
Salinas brought Frenchie to life on stage during dress rehearsal and said the most exciting part of the role is her voice.
“I love her voice, it’s funny.”
This is Davis’ first year as a Harlequin. She loves experiencing the drama atmosphere.
“It’s like a family.”
Sophomore, Anna Olivarez, has enjoyed being in acting and drama for nearly six years. She is also vice president of marketing, making sure the high school, and others, know about the production.
The students are slightly nervous, but really excited about their first live performance.
Mike De Anda said he will be fine as long as his microphone doesn’t fall off during the live performances. His mic fell off at least four times during the dress rehearsal.
Also featured in the “Grease” production is live music. The accompanist and leader of the band is Ernesto Vergara. Lead guitar is played by Brandon Hernandez, Steven Ruiz plays the rhythm guitar, bass guitar is played by Marcus Siegel, and Hector Diaz plays drums.
Hodgson said there is a lot of real good drama and art here in the Valley.
“You don’t have to go up north … come see a real good high school play.”
Many high schools are doing plays and the communities should be seeing these shows, he added.
“You get a great show for a great price. Not only the school can be proud of our performance, but the community as well.”
Hodgson added that each performance should be better than the last.
“As they get more confident, the show gets better.”
The second performance is tonight at VMHS Auditorium at 7 p.m. Other performances will be held Dec. 3 and 4, and Dec. 9 to 11. All performances are at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the VMHS Fine Arts Building after 4:15 or before the show at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults.
VMHS is located at 700 E. 2 Mile Rd.
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