Grease is the word in Banff
By: Tanya Foubert
| Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012 06:00 am
It may not be Rydell High School with the Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys, but Banff’s teenagers are channeling the ’50s and its associated greaser culture with an upcoming production of the musical Grease.
Music teacher Shane Nizinkevich said his goal is to provide opportunities for students including outside school hours while connecting the educational institution with the community.
“Bringing people together, that is what I try to do,” he said, adding his choice of musical was intentional. “I felt it was important to do a musical, I think it applies to youth.
“Even though it is set in the ’50s the themes I think apply… and it needed to be a big enough name to get people involved in it.”
The students who were cast as the lead characters admit it is easier to relate to the storyline and the characters because they are in high school.
“As none of us have an acting background, it is easier to act as teens,” said Kestrel Collison who plays Rizzo. “I have really enjoyed being my character.”
Banff High School does not have a drama program, so when Nizinkevich approached local master of the dramatic arts Joseph Bembridge and asked him to produce the show, he immediately got on board.
Bembridge is a graduate of Canmore Collegiate High School’s drama program and a successful actor and dancer in Montreal who now lives in Banff.
Jess Orchin, who plays Sandy, said she auditioned because she already loves to sing and dance and wanted to try drama as well and while the Grade 9 student doesn’t get credit for the work, she has enjoyed making new friendships.
“I thought it was fun to make new friends and get to know other students,” she said. “I really like performing so it has been great to do that.”
Emmett Robinson-Smith said he was encouraged to audition by his mother, and expected a minor role, but ended up cast as Danny Zuko.
“I’m glad I am more involved because I have really enjoyed it,” Robinson-Smith said, adding with a background in dance he felt comfortable until, of course, he realized he had to sing. “But I have gotten more confident and am able to put myself out there.”
However, along with best friend in real life and on stage Kenickie (Gabriel Kan), both have taken piano lessons, so the transition to singing was easily done.
“It is really cool to take it to another level of performance and trying new things,” Kan said.
Teacher Myka Breyman was asked to do the choreography for the show and said she is blown away by the student’s talent.
“I think the kids at the school are pretty amazing people,” Breyman said, adding she has enjoyed helping encourage the students as triple threats who can sing, dance and act on stage. “It is amazing it takes three adults with specialties to help guide these kids to find their abilities.
“What they are capable of on stage blows me away every time.”
The show will be staged at the Margaret Greenham Theatre at The Banff Centre May 16-17.
Nizinkevich said support from the community and in particular The Banff Centre has been absolutely incredible.
“I really want to think it is a Banff community production,” he said.
Breyman said the professionalism at the Centre and not only donation of stage time for the show but rehearsal time, sound and light technicians, has been fantastic.
“They are bringing us to the next level,” she said. “It is moving it from a high school musical to a level of professionalism.”
The stage will use projection instead of traditionally built sets to save on labour and be more environmentally sustainable. A five-piece band handpicked by Nizinkevich from his music students will also be on stage to support the musical numbers.
The wardrobe, however, is up to each character to choose, with help from the Last Temptation Thrift Store.
“We can bring our own perspective to our character on stage,” Collison said.
But if you are looking for tickets to the highly anticipated show you may be out of luck. As of Friday (May 4) the show was sold out except for four tickets for each show that will be sold through a silent auction to raise funds to continue offering a drama opportunity in the future.