Working at PrimaDonna has given me an interesting perspective on the ongoing fight to save the North East School of the Arts, since many of the talent we’ve worked with are students there. And having seen them grow as artists and performers, I know how important it is to have a place like NESA that encourages them to further that growth and make the most of their talents. It’s absolutely worth the fight.
And as the fight goes on, so must the show…
Which brought us to the school on Friday night for their production of Grease (which featured several of our students and clients and friends, including Gabi Walker, Lana Dvorak, Alli and Camie Gillespie, Steven Sellers in the band, and Rachel Laven as Sandy). It’s hard to believe that this was my first time at a NESA show, but I’m determined that it won’t be the last.
If you only know the story and characters of Grease from the film, then you’ll recognize several differences in the various stage versions out there – song changes, character changes, the kind of choices you have to make when you’re dealing with adaptation – but Danny’s still Danny, Sandy’s still Sandy (though here she’s a transfer student rather than an exchange student), and it’s still Grease. If you love the movie, I’m fairly confident your enjoyment of the stage version will be limited only by the quality of the production.
And this was a quality production on all levels, with the talent on stage matched by the talent off. From acting to choreography to design to some surprising video production work (including a dead-on B-movie parody/homage for a drive-in scene), it was a very well-crafted show, made with energy and enthusiasm. It’s the kind of show from the kind of school that our community should support.
If you missed this show, you’ll still have more chances to offer your support, as the next month will see two fundraisers for NESA. On March 6 (at 2PM), the La Cantera Barnes & Noble will host a bookfair for the school, featuring Donald Braswell and NESA students; on March 23 (from 5-9PM), Culver’s Restaurant at De Zavala will have its own eat-for-a-cause night. A portion of the proceeds from all purchases at both events will help support NESA.
I encourage you to attend at least one of these events; if you can’t make it, then I encourage you to come to NESA for their season’s closing events, which will include Footnotes: A Concert of Dance, The Pirates of Penzance, the 800 lb Film Festival, and much more. The full calendar’s at the school website.
The question of NESA’s fate has generated a lot of press and a lot of emotion. And it’s only fair to debate how to keep the school open. But for me, there’s no question that the school must be kept open. I’ve seen the evidence.
The talent that exists in our kids, whatever form it may take, must be explored. It must be nurtured. It must be celebrated. That is what a school like NESA offers, and that is well worth fighting for.
Such is our obligation, and such is our cause.