Hartsville High students to present musical ‘Grease’

May 9, 2019

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Kick back to the ’50s this weekend with Hartsville High School as it presents “Grease” for its spring musical Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Center Theater.

More than 100 students are involved in this production from cast to orchestra. Students are helping with stage design and marketing, as well as members of the stage crew.

Director Matthew Nelson and staging director Tracee Auman accompanied major characters from the musical to the Hartsville Rotary Club on Tuesday. The students performed several songs from the show.

Leads are Lee Saxton, Danny; Nancy Jane Beasley, Sandy; Leland Saxton, Kenickie; Sophie Roemhildt, Rizzo; and Kason Byerly, Marty.

Auman said she and Nelson have been directing together at Hartsville High School for four years. They told Rotarians they are trying to bring back musicals to the Center like those that were performed years ago by high school students under choral director W.W. Tisdale.

“We speak to the students and get their opinions on the show selection each year, but the final decision depends on the number of students interested and what is a good fit for the school each year,” Auman said. “We only do musicals as of now.”

This year there are eight seniors in the production.

“This is emotional for some of them, especially us as directors, because we have been working with these students for the past four years,” Auman said. “To see how far they have come and to see their love for Broadway is amazing.”

The students become really close, too, she said.

“I’ve been involved in the show for the last three years,” Lee Saxton said. “I’ve made a lot of friends that have become like family. I’m doing what I love with people I love.”

Auditions are held in January for the show, and the students begin rehearsing as soon as the cast is set.

Any Hartsville High Student can audition, Auman said.

“I auditioned because I wanted to follow my brother’s footsteps,” Beasley said. “He was in previous Hartsville High School musicals. I saw that he had fun, made friends and showed off his talent.”

Beasley said she loves singing and acting.

“This is perfect for me, because everything comes together,” she said. “Everyone involved makes it really fun, and it’s like a family.”

“I like to be in the show because it gives me the opportunity to showcase the talents that God has given me and the opportunity to grow as an individual,” Byerly said.

Auman said there will be a live orchestra in the orchestra pit, which is seldom used at the Center Theater. There will be 12 members.

Other directors are Cameron Watkins, music director; Jennifer Pietrzak, art director; Madison Cheatham, choreographer; and Natalie Elsesser, stage manager.

The show opens at 7 p.m. each day. Admission is $7, and tickets can be purchased at the box office.