'Grease' opens at the Andria Theatre in downtown Alexandria June 16
Tickets for the show are on sale now.
A suitcase from the 1940s. A telephone from the 1960s. A poster from the 1980s. Or even a lamp from the 1970s.
These are items Holly Wallerich can more than likely find in the “props tunnel” or other storage areas in the basement of the Andria Theatre.
Wallerich has been in charge of props for many productions at the downtown Alexandria theater and currently, she is in charge of props for the upcoming Student Theatre Project production of “Grease.” The show is slated to open next Wednesday, June 16.
Finding props can sometimes be a challenge, but Wallerich said the Andria Theatre is fortunate enough to have plenty of resources in the Alexandria lakes area. And if something can’t be found, she will find a way to create it.
For example, as “Grease” is set in the 1950s, she needed magazines that were from that era. Not really finding any, she had magazine covers designed, which were then placed on top of magazines from today.
“I have to give props to Sam Bailey, who has been in productions here before,” said Wallerich. “She is now a graphic designer and is not only creating magazine covers, but also packaging from cigarette packs from that era.”
Wallerich said the theater is blessed to have so many connections in the community to help out when she is looking for props. She said cast and crew members have brought in items from their own homes. They have borrowed items from two downtown antique stores – Past and Present Home Gallery and Yesterdays.
If and when an item cannot be found, Wallerich said she will resort to searching for items online, whether through Ebay or Amazon.
Nostalgia is important
Wallerich, who has been the assistant director for all Student Theatre Project productions, including the upcoming production of “Grease,” said once the play is determined and if she is selected to help with props, she will peruse the script.
Most often, ideas for props will be cited in the script, which is helpful, she said. She will also read through the entire script to give her a better idea of what will be needed.
Wallerich said she and Donna Magnuson will tag team finding props in the “props tunnel” or other storage areas.
“We have a lot of items right at our fingertips,” she said. “It’s so helpful.”
In a show like “Grease,” Wallerich said it is so important to get the right items in order to bring that nostalgic piece for the audience.
She also said trying to get the students to understand that they need to tap into the nostalgic piece of this production hasn’t been the easiest, but she said it is important. Especially, she said, for the older generation who will be coming to see the show.
“It’s important that they (the students) know and understand what the music from this show means to people,” she said, adding that music is such an important piece of some people’s history and that it can bring them back to a specific time and place that makes them happy.
As for some of the props for “Grease,” Wallerich said there have been a few items that have been tricky to find. She is still actually looking for a few things, like pom poms from that era. She has been able to find smaller pom poms, but in the 1950s, the pom poms were big and full. She is hopeful that she’ll be able to find something before opening night, though.
“There’s a lot of grunt work behind the scenes, but it’s fun once the production all comes together,” she said.
Being someone else
Abigail Nelson, the 16-year-old from Miltona who was cast to play Sandy in the STP production of “Grease,” has been on stage since she was 9.
After seeing a production of “Into the Woods,” and seeing an audition notice for “Honk Jr.,” Nelson told her mom she wanted to try out.
“I really wanted to be the ugly duckling (the lead), but I ended up being a froglet,” said Nelson, who soon realized she loved to be on stage. “There is something addicting about it.”
She said it’s fun being someone else, although at times, it can also be stressful. Regardless, Nelson said it is totally worth it.
“I love the costumes and I love to dress up and be someone else,” she said.
Her two favorite songs from the show are “You’re the one that I want” and “Hopelessly devoted to you.”
As for Sandy’s character, Nelson said she has set morals but knows what she wants. She said Sandy is timid but can also be feisty.
Nelson wants the audience to empathize with Sandy because she said Sandy is really heartbroken. She wants the audience to put themselves in Sandy’s shoes and to try and feel what she is feeling.
To prepare for her role, she familiarized herself with the character and then tried to act like Sandy in her real life.
“It helps and makes life easier when I have to act like her on stage,” said Nelson.
Danny – Regan Peterson
Sandy – Abigail Nelson
Kenickie – Ryland Yeats
Rizzo – Parker Zwach
Eugene – Nick Zabroski
Patty – Myra nelson
Roger – Zach Kent
Marty – Taylor Yeats
Doody – Tai Auran
Jan – Jordan Rymer
Sonny – Addison Randazzo
Frenchy – Kylee Dummer
Cha Cha/Ensemble – Avery Sinning
Vince Fontaine/Ensemble – Max Duncan
Teen Angel/Ensemble – Bianca Wegner
Johnny Casino/Ensemble – Brooke Houska
Ensemble – Anna Tikkenen, Diora Hanson, Kassidy Huwe, Kathy Robinson, KD Tomoson, Kianna Spates, Mahri Kolar, Mya Santelman, Olivia Reilly and Sydney Bock
Director – David Christman
Assistant director – Holly Wallerich
Choreographer – Robin Lin
Musical director – Ruth Blom
Stage manager – Amaya Hughes
Costumes – Molly Eken
Costume assistant – BreAnn Neiger
Set design/construction – Regan Peter and Greg Bohl
Hair/make-up – Analee Sheets
Props – Holly Wallerich
Sound – Greg Raether
Lighting – Donna Magnuson
If you go
WHEN: June 16-19 and June 23-26 with all shows starting at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Andria Theatre, 618 Broadway St., Alexandria
TICKETS: Go to www.andriatheatre.org or call the box office at 320-762-8300.