(Crystal A. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, March 1, 2012 ed)
The students of Ferndale Enterprise Student Theatre not only learn how to put on a musical. In preparation for the big show, the young actors, musicians, lighting and sound technicians and other crew also learn how to reach out into the community to help promote the performance.
“We just go in and say ‘we’re from the musical Grease, so you mind if we put a poster up? Almost all the businesses say yes,” said Dominic Sweeney, a senior who was on the street team for Grease when the cast and crew came to Downtown Ferndale to connect.
Sweeney, who plays Kenickie, went to businesses along 9 Mile and Woodward along with fellow cast member Chris Schurg.
While they went door-to-door, another dozen or so students worked together to decorate the front windows of the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) offices at 149 W. 9 Mile Road. The red-painted lettering, beach balls, music symbols and other decorations will remind passerbys that their big production is coming March 17-18, and 23-25 2012 to the theater at Ferndale High School (881 Pinecrest).
“I think it’s great when students reach out to the businesses and the businesses get involved with what young people are doing,” said Chris Huges, Communications Director of the DDA. “We’re happy to let them use the space, and we’re just back here trying to absorb all the good energy.” Huges said the DDA will link to information about Grease when the event is closer, and for two weeks preceding it they will have 50s music playing from the outdoor speakers along W. 9 Mile.
The students are excited about the musical. “Theatre is a lot of fun,” said Imari Peterson, a senior who plays a ‘Pink Lady in Training.’ “I waited a long time before I joined. I’m not sure why. I regret not doing it sooner. What I think I get out of it is that it’s about control. There are a lot of times you’re not in control, and you can’t just do what you want. It’s good to learn.”
Grease will be Peterson’s second musical. She and Schurg both made their on-stage debuts last year in Oklahoma.
“It’s a lot more work that you’d expect when you first jump in,” Schurg said. “We start rehearsing in January and the auditions are in December. So as soon as we come back from winter break we get right to it.”
For Sweeney it will be the last high school musical. The senior says he may do community theatre in college but that it’s more fun than a career choice for him. For senior Sierra Onickel, who plays Rizzo, it is a chance to “have fun, make friends and do something to be part of the community.” She’s been acting since fourth grade when she had her first role in a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. She said she hopes to continue in community theatre and to become a photographer.
The annual musical is presented by the Ferndale Musical Theatre Boosters, and it puts students from all grades together in one giant musical show. The older students mentor younger ones as they learn teamwork, patience, the value of practice and theatrical skills like acting, singing, and production.
For more information on Ferndale Schools, please go to http://www.ferndaleschools.org.
Read about last year’s musical Oklahoma: