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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 2, 2009
Going out for Grease Lightning
By Zach Simeone
BERNE Coriellen Travis is working on her seventh musical at Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School, with kids she has been directing since they were in seventh grade.
“I knew I’d do Grease when they were seniors,” Travis told The Enterprise. “It’s my favorite musical.”
The show tells the story, through a group of students at Rydell High School, of rock ’n’ roll’s contribution to leaving behind the conservatism of the 1950s and stepping into the 1960s, a more free-spirited decade where individuality reigned.
Danny Zuko, the popular guy with slicked back hair and a leather jacket, and Sandy Dumbrowski, the conservative, new girl at school, fell in love during their summer vacation. But summer has just ended, and school is starting back up.
Upon returning to his friends, greasers like himself, Danny can only brag about the physical component to his relationship with Sandy, in an attempt to stay cool in the eyes of his compatriots.
Sandy, on the other hand, can’t help but think about their emotional connection, as she tries to make friends at her new school. When the two run into each other in the halls, Danny brushes her off in front of his friends, too cool to have any acquaintance with the new girl. Crushed, Sandy wishes she had never met Danny, though he eventually realizes he’s made a mistake, and tries desperately to win her back.
Travis, a music teacher at the high school, has done more than just direct her actors. She taught them all the songs and designed the sets, the students said. As the choreographer, she taught her cast the jitterbug, the Lindy hop, the cha-cha, and a line-dance stroll.
While the show is about “a bunch of kids having fun,” Travis said, “it’s also about love, and friendship all kinds of relationships, really. Even though it takes place in the ’50s, people can still relate to it now. It’s about kids coming into their own, and I think everyone can relate to at least one of the 16 main characters,” she said.
Of those characters, 13 are played by seniors, and three by juniors. But they are just a fraction of the full cast, 60 students strong. “We’ve got some huge full-cast numbers,” Travis said.
Ethan Crevatas, a senior at BKW, plays Danny Zuko, the show’s male lead.
“Danny is the hotshot,” Crevatas said, “but he meets Sandy during the summer and it throws him a curve ball, which makes it a little harder to act like the cool guy when school starts up again.”
Opposite Crevatas is Monique Devine, also a senior, playing Sandy Dumbrowski.
“I’m kind of the oddball in the group, because I’m new,” Devine said of her character. “I try to fit in, and it doesn’t work, because they all have their own cliques, and I’m the new girl. But I end up changing and everybody loves me,” she laughed.
While she has had fun with the character, she faced some challenges.
“It was kind of hard to get into my character, because I’m not usually the shy one,” Devine said. “Sometimes, I think, ‘Am I the oddball here?’ because I’m actually acting with my friends.”
Both Crevatas and Devine, along with the rest of the students, commend Travis for her work on the show.
“Ms. Travis has been fabulous,” one student said.
“She’s done everything,” said another.
While Travis has worked with many of the cast members since they were in middle school, not all the students have acted before. Dillon McCann, Joseph Shahen, Charlie Turner, Joshua Glick, and Jon DeLong are all newcomers to the stage.
“They are all talented young adults,” Travis said of her cast. “People are definitely in for a treat if they come.”
Grease will play at the BKW High School auditorium, on Helderberg Trail in Berne, on April 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m., and on April 5 at 3 p.m.