Paul Stewart III plays the role of Kenickie in Sandstone Productions’ "Grease" during a dress rehearsal on Wednesday at the Lions
Paul Stewart III plays the role of Kenickie in Sandstone Productions' "Grease" during a dress rehearsal on Wednesday at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)
IF YOU GO

What: Sandstone Productions' “Grease”

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Aug. 3.

Where: Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, 5800 College Blvd. in Farmington

Tickets: $10. Available at the Farmington Civic Center or by calling 505-599-1148.

Farmington — Amid the boulders and junipers at Lions Wilderness Park, Sandstone Productions has created a miniature Rydell High School, the setting of the musical "Grease."

The theater group's summer musical "Grease" opens tonight.

Last year's musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," had record attendance, and Sandstone hopes for similar success this year.

Producer Shawn Lyle said the idea for "Grease" first came up a few years ago. The idea really took shape in November when the board of director sat down to select this year's summer musical.

Lyle said the cast and crew tailored "Grease" to fit the Four Corners area. For instance, on Rydell High School's banner, Sandstone has added references to the desert.

The theater group held its auditions in February. Ashley Cooper auditioned and earned the role of Rizzo, the leader of a group of girls known as the Pink Ladies. While Rizzo is at times offensive, she is secretly insecure.

"The hardest part is looking at the other actors and having to say something that's supposed to destroy them," Cooper said.

Cooper, who is 21, said her young age gives her an advantage that some of the older actors don't have.

"The further you remove yourself from high school, the more you try to forget," Cooper said.

Cooper explained that high school is a lot like "Grease." There are mean girls, boys, drama and a lot of trying to fit in.

Mandy Arcomano, who plays Sandy Olsson, and Heath Cates, who portrays Danny Zuko, rehearse a scene during a dress rehearsal for Sandstone
Mandy Arcomano, who plays Sandy Olsson, and Heath Cates, who portrays Danny Zuko, rehearse a scene during a dress rehearsal for Sandstone Productions' "Grease" on Wednesday at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

Linann Easely, the stage manager and costume designer, said that when designing costumes she tried to keep with the musical's 1950s setting. Easley said she stayed true to the decade's color scheme but "blew it out of the park with saturation."

To add to the genuine '50s feel of the play, Randy Akins of Industrial Mechanical Inc. donated a red 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible to serve as the car known as Grease Lightning. Every day, someone from Sandstone will drive over to Akins' shop to pick up the car, and they will return it after the play.

Akins' grandfather bought the car when it was brand new, and it has been in the family since then. In addition to being the family's car, Akins uses it as a company vehicle.

Suzy DiSanto, the musical's choreographer, also embraced the '50s dance style. DiSanto said that her master's degree in dance history helped her with "Grease" because she already was familiar with the era. Still, choreographing 11 dance numbers was challenging, she said.

"Dance in the '50s was so, so important," DiSanto said.

Elvis Presley influenced many of the dance styles and led men to embrace swiveling their hips. But at the same time, there was a movement among females to be more proper so women often danced more upright, DiSanto said.

"It's fun to watch these guys transform from kids of the 2000s to '50s," DiSanto said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her@hmgrover on Twitter.