Spring musical cast rehearses for “Grease,” scene blocking during after school hours


Rehearsing Jan. 18 for “Grease,” Kai la Pont, Armaan Sharma and Adriano Bracamontes pull each other into an embrace as part of the scene they were blocking. Photo by Alyssa Folmer.

Josiah Roland has been in theater since his freshman year. When he found out he was cast for the role of “Danny,” he knew he had to make it one of his best performances being one of the lead roles in the musical. To allow for a better fit for himself outside of the theater and in his onstage reality, Roland chopped off several inches of his long hair.

Practicing for their performances, the cast of the spring musical “Grease” has rehearsed for two hours almost every day after school. The cast has been preparing with vocal rehearsals in the choir room, one-on-one singing lessons, rewatching the film, crafting custom made character Spotify playlists and even changing their physical appearances to jump into the world of their character in their own limitless reality. 

“The hair is a really important part of ‘Grease,’ so that’s why I chose to cut it for the show,” Roland said. “If I had kept my long hair and wore a wig instead, I would’ve had to be more careful with it and not mess around as much, which is a big part [of Danny’s character.] Not only that, but there’s more that I can do with it now that it’s just short. I’ve had it long for quite a while, it was time.” 

While auditioning, several roles were left without being double cast, one being Roland. While preparing for his performance, he said staying healthy and keeping up a good mindset without too much pressure is key to fulfilling his commitment to being the only person casted as Danny. 

“We did have a limited number of guys auditioning for the show, so there’s really only so much we could’ve done,” Josiah said. “It does put more pressure on me to not mess up, potentially get sick or have anything happen to me because I’m the only option. I think that once we start getting into the actual show [myself and the rest of the cast] definitely [will] have to be a lot more careful.”

Michaella Leonor has also been in the theater program since her freshman year. Striving for a lead role at each musical audition, she said she couldn’t believe she got one of the leads, Sandy.

“Honestly, it feels unreal because this is my first ever leading role,” Leonor said. “For such a long time, I’ve always been shooting pretty high and have always been trying to go for leads and getting roles that make me excited. Finally being able to achieve what you’ve been working so hard for, for so long, feels really good. That’s how I like to think about it. It’s like just a reward for the many years that I’ve been working hard for.”

Practicing for her performance as Sandy, Leonor has broadened her spectrum on how she can take her character to the next level.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun trying so many different things with her and playing her in different ways because I think that there is just so much you could do with her character,” Lenor said.

As Sandy being one of Leonor’s first leading roles, she has had to push herself to achieve the character’s attributes while being creative with her techniques and never letting the nerves get the best of her.  

“I try not to think about the nerves too much. I usually just like to breathe it out and talk with other people to distract myself. [I’ll] try to be silly with my friends and then I get on stage, I’m someone else, I’m not Michaella right now. It’s time for me to give the audience a show.”

While the actors put time and effort into becoming their characters, director Joshua Ansley has to pick from an “already narrow list” that will give not only his audience something new and entertaining. Picking a musical isn’t always a quick decision to make. Ansley has to consider things like other musicals that have already been selected by other schools, the show rights available, the amount of actors who have the time to put months of work in on top of their schedules, community, budget and repetition that may be boring to him and the cast. 

“I like to see if we can challenge ourselves. I thought ‘This show’s gonna be a challenge’ and I liked the fact that, particularly with ‘Grease,’ I liked that there was more dance involved,” Ansley said. 

Since “High School Musical” was showcased back in 2020, dance hasn’t been incorporated into musicals because of COVID-19 and his wife’s pregnancy. 

“We’ve been away from a show with dance and we wanna get back to that, get involved with [dance]. So that was part of it. And then I look at, ‘Hey, is this something that’s popular that I think people are gonna want to come and see?”

Ansley said he constantly asks himself questions like these to determine before a musical is picked to see if it will get the traction he and his students hope their work will bring while avoiding “cookie cutter” attention.

“I think we’re still pushing. I don’t think we’re at a place here where I want to do a show that nobody knows yet. I want it to be something that people kind of understand,” Ansley said. “So when you tell people ‘Grease,’ you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s so nostalgic.’