Getting ‘Grease’y in Maple Ridge

Local high school students are preparing to send you back to the 1950s in their latest production of Grease. - Ashley Wadhwani/The TIMES
Local high school students are preparing to send you back to the 1950s in their latest production of Grease.
— image credit: Ashley Wadhwani/The TIMES

Grade 11 student Cam Choo is testing the waters as stage manager for Garibaldi Secondary school’s upcoming production of Grease – The Musical.

Choo is taking a behind-the-scenes role in the production, but is well-versed in the art of the spotlight.

Choo’ prior experience in acting aids his position as stage manager. He can relate to the other actors while directing them. He knows what it’s like to be in their shoes.

“I just know how it would be if I was acting,” Choo said.

Choo has also proven himself to be a talented writer, noted his theatre teacher Cyndy Lacroix.

Between acting, directing, and writing, Choo finds it difficult to pick a favourite. He likes all three.

“In Grade 8 drama rotation I kind of fell in love with all of this,” Choo said. “So, I just kind of stuck with it.”

However, leading up to the production, with no readily available stage manager for the play, Choo stepped up to the plate.

“My friends are doing this,” Choo said. “I thought it would be fun.”

As stage manager, Choo’s job is to oversee everyone on set and in the technical booth. He provides sound and lighting cues as well as stage directions for the actors.

“I take care of everyone, really,” Choo said.

Having the respect of the other actors and crew Choo works with is vital to the role of stage manager. If he’s giving them directions, they need to trust he knows what he’s doing.

“It wasn’t too hard to get them comfortable with me because they already knew me,” Choo said. “If I was never involved in theatre and started giving orders it would have been kind of awkward.”

As one might expect, leadership skills are a must for a stage manager. Fortunately, Choo said these skills come naturally to him.

His assistant stage managers, he said with a laugh, had shirts made with “Choo’s Angels” on the back, while his shirt read “Supreme Leader.”

“If I want something done, I kind of expect it to be done,” Choo added.

Choo is responsible for managing any difficulties that arise during production.

At one rehearsal, he recalled, the soundboard wasn’t working as it should. While Choo didn’t have the technical skills to fix the problem himself, he immediately brought in a fellow student who did.

The production will make use of a new $5,000 projector recently “donated” by the high school. With the projector, digital images will replace handmade sets.

“The digital effects [are] kind of unique,” Choo said. “I’ve never seen it done this way before.”

Curtain call is at 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 16 to 20.

Tickets can be purchased, at the Little Cricket Gift Gallery and the school, and are cash only. Adult tickets are $17, and student and senior tickets are $15.

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