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Jeffery Star, left, plays 'Danny' and Calysta Cheyenne is 'Marty'

Kids, &

145;Grease,&

make perfect pairing

Tidings correspondent

The Children&

s Musical Theatre of Ashland will premier &

Grease-The School Version,&

Thursday, April 13 at the Historic Ashland Armory. The musical, with a cast of 29, will feature some of the Rogue Valley&

s most promising young performers in this &

edited for families&

version of the stage and screen classic musical production. Songs will include, &

We Go Together,&

&

You&

re The One That I Want,&

&

Greased Lightning,&

and other favorites.

&

Grease&

will be directed by John Taylor, who, along with his wife Rhonda, founded Children&

s Musical Theatre of Ashland in 2005. Taylor, who hails from California, has more than 25 years of experience as a professional keyboardist, pianist, musical director, composer and producer. As a middle school student he taught himself to play the piano, and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has served as musical director and conductor of Cirque du Soleil&

s &

O&

at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He has also worked with entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez, DeBarge, Expose&

, and Rick Astley.

John and Rhonda, high school sweethearts in 1980, found one another again in 2003, fell back in love, and were married in 2005. Settling in Ashland, they decided to make their dream of a children&

s musical theatre come true.

&

We wanted to create a venue and an outlet for children to discover their creative spirit,&

John said.

As a model, John used John Healy&

s San Jose Children&

s Musical Theatre, where he performed as a youngster.

&

Children&

s theater,&

John said, &

has truly been the most exciting for me &

133; We honestly just want to create something exciting for the children, and give the kids a way to express themselves in a fun, professional environment, while learning the craft from talented professionals who share the same vision.

&

Kids in this area need an outlet that isn&

t hyper-competitive theatre. Our unique policy, unlike any other theatres in the this area, is that all who complete the audition process are cast in the show.&

The Taylor&

s believe that all children should be given the opportunity to be in a professional, quality production, regardless of their current level of talent. Performing in a production like &

Grease,&

John emphasizes, develops kids&

sense of self-esteem, responsibility, and creative expression.

— — —

The kids cast of &

145;Grease&

rehearse a — dance routine in preparation for the April 14 show.

&

There truly is magic on the stage when &

145;Grease&

fires up, and I think we&

re seeing some of the new stars of tomorrow on that first Children&

s Musical Theatre of Ashland stage.&

Jesse Sharpe, 14, who portrays Doody in the &

Grease&

production, clearly has the passion.

&

I like getting a different point of view on life through a character, the different emotions,&

Sharpe said. &

Being on stage can give me an adrenaline rush, especially if I become aware of the audience, though I have to act like the audience isn&

t there.&

The Taylors envision that when CMTA reaches its potential, they will have 1,000 kids a year on stage.

&

It&

s incredible to think what we could accomplish for aspiring young performers,&

John said. &

We&

re excited to act upon our vision of making Ashland the number one spot for children on stage.&

— — The "Pink Ladies" from Children's Musical — Theater production of "Grease." Left to right are: Madeline — Hensarling, Hali Alspach, Natalie Horton, Calysta Cheyenne and Anika Rahlston.

Working with CMTA is Aisha Wand, choreographer, and owner and director of Ashland-based Danceworks, as well as two well-known area performers, Laura Derocher and David Gabriel who will serve as theatrical and vocal coaches. John Taylor will produce the musical score for the production.

— — Choreographer Aisha Wand leads the Children's Musical — Theater cast of "Grease" in an uplifting dance.

&

Grease-The School Version&

will play April 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 2006 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at The Music Coop, 181 A St., by calling 778-3365 or by mailing a ticket order for desired quantity, dates and payment by check to CMTA/&

Grease&

Tickets, 1454 Ashland Street, No. 179, Ashland, OR 97520. Prices are $10/$7.50 for children 12 and under.

Looking ahead, CMTA will begin auditions for its second production, &

The Wizard of Oz.&

Auditions will be held July 22 and 23 at the Family YMCA. CMTA and the YMCA are partnering for this production and rehearsals will be from Aug. — through Sept. 17. Performances will be in late September. CMTA will also hold a three-day &

audition camp,&

and will be taught by Aisha Wand and John Taylor. The curriculum will cover how to perform a successful audition, as well as singing, dancing and acting methods, and what the director of a production is looking for.