Students from across Anne Arundel County pulled out all the stops for Friday's premiere performance of Grease: The School Version.
Leads John LaRussa (Danny) and Erin Paxton (Sandy) made their voices soar for all the greatest hits in the play at the Children's Theatre of Annapolis (CTA).
After the show, Paxton beamed with pride about the play's first night.
"I'm really excited about how it turned out. I'm so proud of everybody tonight," Paxton said.
The ensemble cast includes several Broadneck High School students, including seniors LaRussa, Mark Hollerbach (Kenieke), Jessica Straub (Frenchy), and sophomore Mariel White (Rizzo).
Students performed before of a series of elaborate sets painted by parents from across the county. Among the highlights were the car featured during the performance of "Greased Lightning." With the guidance of Bill Smith, an architect, they created a driveable, wooden creation complete with the 30-inch fins and dual-exhaust mentioned in the lyrics.
Parent Dave Heemstra, who designed and constructed the car and other sets, said it was a labor of love for everyone involved. His son, Austin Heemstra, is a junior at Severna Park High School and played Teen Angel during Frenchy's dream sequence in the second act.
The entire cast had their hand in the amazing performances, but Paxton's sonorous voice stole the show. Perhaps that's why a sophomore was able to capture the lead female role.
LaRussa is also involved in Little Shop of Horrors at Broadneck High. He said it still hasn't really hit him that this will be among his last times up on the stage with his fellow students.
"I'm getting there. I'm going to enjoy these few weekends and then I'll probably break down crying," he said.
Director Christy Stouffer said she was proud of the students, who used their energy on the first night to propel them to a great performance.
"First night is always very special. Everyone has a lot of energy. This is what we were working for all this time. The kids were ready, and I think they did a great job. I couldn't be prouder of them," Stouffer said.
Music Director Joshua Konick, an alumnus of the CTA, said "proud" was just the tip of the iceberg.
"We threw that around before the performance, telling them how proud we were. But I couldn't have known until after right now just how proud I really am. I really think they did an incredible job tonight," Konick said.
The next showing of Grease will be this weekend. Evening shows are Jan. 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m., and matinee shows are Jan. 14 and 15. Tickets are $15.
For more information, call 410-757-2281 or visit the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis website.