Summer Arts Intensive Caps Season With Electrifying Classic “Grease”

If there’s one musical that has transcended generations with its catchy music, iconic costumes and plenty of rock ‘n’ roll attitude, it’s “Grease.”

Ask anyone to name a song from “Grease,” and chances are that person can list at least three or four – even if they haven’t seen the production. It’s a pop culture classic.

To cap its seventh season, the Summer Arts Intensive theater program performs the electrifying musical July 27 – Aug. 1 at Sheyenne High School Theater.

The production features a mixture of high school and college students who capture the look and sound of the musical’s classic songs like “You’re the One That I Want,” “Summer Nights” and “Greased Lightnin’.”

“It’s exciting to put something on stage that’s so near and dear to everyone’s hearts,” says Summer Arts Intensive Director Adam Pankow. “Grease” tells the story of cool guy Danny Zuko, whose world is turned upside down when he discovers his summer love Sandy Dumbrowski is the new girl at Rydell High. What follows is a shoo-bop celebration of teen angst, fast cars and young love.

Pankow says the production is a hybrid of the Broadway musical and hit movie with over 50 artists in the cast, crew and live orchestra. The show also incorporates various ways to give cast members chances to shine.

“We’re going to make our show really fast and high-energy,” he says. “Because it’s written as a Broadway musical, the script is really about scene changes, but I want to make it spin.”

The Summer Arts Intensive rehearses the “Summer Nights” scene at Sheyenne High School Theater.

Pankow started the Summer Arts Intensive seven years ago with other local arts educators. Its mission is to help emerging young artists develop their talents and gain understanding of theater production and performance.

The program’s first season consisted of a “pretty rag-tag” production of “Pippin,” wherein the 15 cast members used existing props and costumes from their own closets, Pankow says.

“We had small but enthusiastic audiences and have built from there,” Pankow continues. “We’re still resourceful with things but as our program has grown, it’s cool to see it flourish and to see kids want to be apart of it.”

Even though the musical is 45 years old this year, Pankow said students “turned out in droves” to audition – especially the high school students.

This is the fourth year the Summer Arts Intensive has featured two separate summer productions – one featuring primarily middle school students; the other featuring high school and college students.

The Summer Arts Intensive rehearses at Sheyenne High School theater.

“Willy Wonka,” the middle school Summer Arts Intensive production, wrapped up at the end of June.

Because the Summer Arts Intensive seeks to help young artists grow, reciprocal mentorship from all skill levels is a prominent aspect of the program.

“We look at everyone’s talents and where they would best fit,” Pankow says. “I think everybody – no matter where they’re placed in the show – has something to learn and something to teach to somebody else.”

Pankow is excited to see the audience tap their toes and hum along to the music – and with the catchy music of “Grease,” they’ll likely continue to do so long after curtain close.

“I am confident this show will not disappoint,” he says.

If You Go

What: Summer Arts Intensive production of “Grease”

When: 7:30 p.m. July 27, 28, 29, 31 and August1; 2:30 p.m. July 30.

Where: Sheyenne High School Theater (800 40th Avenue East, West Fargo)

Tickets: $16 adults, $13 seniors, and $10 students. Box office: 701-499- 3237 or www.WestFargoTheatre.com.

This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, July 24, 2017.

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