Opening night for Moffat County High School musical is Nov. 21 |

Opening night for Moffat County High School musical is Nov. 21

The female students of Rydell High gather around Sandy, played by Moffat County High School senior Caitlin Harjes, as she sings "Summer Nights" during a rehearsal for "Grease." The school's fall musical will feature performances Nov. 21, 22 and 23.

— As Moffat County High School senior Caitlin Harjes faces her final year in school in Craig, she hopes to make memories of MCHS that will last the rest of her life. Given the subject material of the production she'll be starring in, she'll be able to remember high school hijinks in more ways than one.

The MCHS drama department soon will be featuring performances of its fall musical, "Grease." The curtain will go up Nov. 21, 22 and 23 for the beloved show about student life in the 1950s at fictitious Rydell High.

For those who have seen neither the stage production, one of the longest-running shows on Broadway, nor the 1978 film it inspired, the story focuses on the whirlwind romance of high schoolers Sandy and Danny, played by Harjes and MCHS senior Derek Maiolo, respectively.

The two have acted in numerous shows between them, with both appearing in "Guys and Dolls" and "Rehearsal for Murder" at MCHS directed by former teacher Heather Dahlberg. Harjes also has performed in "The Sound of Music," "Fools" and "Footloose."

She also enrolled in Steamboat Springs' Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp during the past summer and hopes to pursue theater in college.

"I really want to go into musical theater, so it's kind of bittersweet that this is my last musical at this high school, but it's nice to be part of this with everybody," she said.

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Vocal and drama instructor Christina Wilcox serves as the director for "Grease," her first show at MCHS. One of the challenges she has faced in crafting the production has been the stage movement and dialogue, some of which is altered from the original creation for the school version of the show, though classic songs like "Summer Nights," "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "We Go Together," "Greased Lightnin'" and more still are present.

"Sometimes, they pull some of the lines and make it awkward dramatically, and we're doing our best to make things theatrically sound as well as school-appropriate," she said. "One of the scenes is just them standing in a park shouting at each other from across the stage, so we had to revamp that into multiple scenes within a scene for something that will work for us."

Overcoming difficulties is what makes the cast all the better the further they go, Harjes said.

"I think we've really grown from all we've done," she said.

After three years of working with Dahlberg in the various stage shows, having a new teacher for her final year has allowed Harjes to see new sides of the theater world. Likewise, Wilcox said she has a fine cast and crew to work with as they put all the pieces together, as seen in her tendency to hand out small awards and acknowledgments for those who do the most noteworthy work.

"We've got great kids, and a lot of them have far more abilities than they're ever aware of, and they can think for themselves more than they want to sometimes," she said.

Sophomore Makayla True, who plays Rydell's resident goody-two-shoes Patty, said the rehearsal process has been tiring, but she and the rest of the ensemble are up to the task.

"It's so worth it, and it's just so much fun because everyone is so nice to everyone else," she said.

Sophomore Jake Stewart portrays disc jockey Vince Fontaine and serves as Wilcox's assistant whenever necessary.

"I help out with music when the stage managers aren't around or fill in with lines if someone's not here and just do Ms. Wilcox's bidding," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the exhilaration of the show and everything coming together and the crowd cheering us on."

Wilcox said the mixture of seasoned actors and first-timers is part of what makes the show interesting.

"There's always different levels of achievement and involvement, and there's always a year when kids come and go because they fear change and transition, but we've got kids here who love the theater and the stage, and we're going to be just fine," she said.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or

If you go

What: Moffat County High School fall musical — “Grease”

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 21 and 22; 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 23

Where: Moffat County High School auditorium

Tickets are $5 for general seating and $10 for the VIP center section. Tickets and merchandise can be purchased at For more information, email or call 970-824-7036.