Last updateMon, 15 Jun 2020 10pm

Back You are here: Home Entertainment Entertainment News Theater 'Grease' pulls into the Corn Stock tent

'Grease' pulls into the Corn Stock tent

Log in to save this page.
IMG 8899
IMG 8875

From the time they were children, Rachel Wooden and her little sister Ingrid Beyhl planned to someday perform on stage in the musical “Grease”. They’d already been doing the show in their garage, forcing their parents to watch over and over.

For Rachel, the dream of playing Sandy never happened. She auditioned twice; the first time she was too young, the second she was too old. Don’t fret for her, though. She is directing “Grease” at Corn Stock Theatre, opening Friday night under the tent in Upper Bradley Park. It is her Corn Stock directing debut.

For Ingrid, she is finally going to be on stage in “Grease,” in the role of Marty under her sister’s direction.

“’Grease’ is one of my favorite shows of all time. That’s why I submitted it. I figure if I couldn’t be in it, I would direct it. That way I could still see my vision for the show come to life. It’s the best of all worlds,” Wooden said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”

“Grease,” written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, takes place in a fictional Chicago high school in 1959. It follows a group of teen-agers who are trying to survive against peer pressure and the social issues of that time, including love, friendship, sexual exploration teen pregnancy, and rebellion. The show swirls around the romance of the cool Danny Zuko and the new girl in town, the sweet Sandy Dumbrowski.

The music recreates the sounds of the era. Songs include “Summer Nights,” “Those Magic Changes,” “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Greased Lightning” and “We Go Together.”

The musical became a standard for high schools, particularly after it was tamed somewhat from the original script.

But Corn Stock, which is staging the show for the first time under the tent, is using the original version, Wooden said. She said the things that were considered objectionable 30 years ago, mostly rough language, aren’t looked at the same way. “We’re leaving in the rough language, the off-kilter jokes and sexual innuendos. But it certainly isn’t bad. If parents have let their children watch the movie version, they should be comfortable letting them see this,” she said.

The film was a hit, starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway.

Wooden has a cast of 23, ranging in age from 19 to about 50. “One thing I tried to do was cast different types; different body types, hair types. I wanted what would look like a well-rounded high school group,” she said.

David Brown portrays Danny, leader of the group the T-Birds. In his first lead role at the tent, Wooden said she can’t wait to unleash Brown on the audience. “He is a talent and he is everything you want and expect Danny to be,” she said.

Meg Simpson is making her Corn Stock tent debut in the role of Sandy. “Her personality is Sandy, so she is great in the role,” Wooden said.

Betty Rizzo, the tough-acting dominant member of the Pink Ladies, is performed by Jillian Risinger and Kenickie is portrayed by Ethan Johnson.

Dan Challacombe, long-time favorite of Peoria-area audiences who has performed in countless community theatre shows as well as several times a year at Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre in Goodfield, portrays Teen Angel. “We were sitting there before auditions started wondering who we would get for that role and Dan walked through the door. How lucky could we get? He is so good,” Wooden said.

Other cast members include community theatre veterans Susan Knobloch, Beth Ann Evers, Jake Van Hoorn, Kyle King, Megan Manley, Jessica Palkovic and, as Vince Fontaine, Bryan Blanks.

“One of the best things about this show is the complexity of the characters. I am very pleased with my cast and how they have handled those complexities,” Wooden said.

The seven-piece band is directed by Laura Weaver Hughes. Choreographer is Darin Jackson Adams and the set was designed and built by Chip Joyce. It was painted by members of Lisa Bentley’s art class from Limestone High School.

“Grease” runs Friday through Aug. 8, each performance starting at 7:30 p.m.  

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students. They are on sale at the Corn Stock box office or can be ordered online at or by calling (309) 676-2196. 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).