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posted: 2/3/2014 2:51 PM

School closed, teens turn to Arlington Park for play rehearsal

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  • St. Viator senior Bobby Gallant watches the action from his keyboard as the cast rehearses "Footloose" at Arlington Park.

      St. Viator senior Bobby Gallant watches the action from his keyboard as the cast rehearses "Footloose" at Arlington Park.
    Courtesy of Mary Margaret Hanisch

  • St. Viator ensemble members run through one of the dances from "Footloose" at Arlington Park.

      St. Viator ensemble members run through one of the dances from "Footloose" at Arlington Park.
    Courtesy of Mary Margaret Hanisch

  • Senior Sarah Miklius critiques dancers during group performances of "Footloose" at Arlington Park.

      Senior Sarah Miklius critiques dancers during group performances of "Footloose" at Arlington Park.
    Courtesy of Mary Margaret Hanisch

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

The show must go on!

That was the spirit displayed last week when St. Viator students found themselves faced with school closed for two days due to subzero weather, taking away valuable dress rehearsal time before their sold-out opening of the musical, "Footloose."

What did they do? Instead of staying home, bundled up in bed -- like most other self-respecting teenagers -- they went out and found themselves an alternative rehearsal space at Arlington Park.

That's right. Up in the racetrack's fourth floor Million Room, which normally accommodates fundraisers of up to 150 people in the spacious dining room which overlooks the track, nearly 75 teens from the cast rehearsed their show.

One of the teens, senior Emily Zahrebelski of Hoffman Estates came up with the idea after talking to her friend, senior Maria Petrillo of Arlington Heights, whose father, Tony, manages Arlington Park.

"We don't usually reserve space like this, at the last minute," Petrillo said, "but I got the feeling there was a sense of urgency here.

"This was really important to them, to be able to perform to the best of their ability," he added. "We were happy to do it. It was a good opportunity for us to be good neighbors."

That morning, Petrillo had his housekeeping staff clear away of all the tables and chairs, allowing cast members to have the platform space in the room, which roughly equaled the size of their school stage.

The teens then secured the assistance of senior Bobby Gallant of Arlington Heights, who plays piano in the pit orchestra. He had a copy of the score and a keyboard and was able to play his way through the show, accompanying the show's many songs and ensemble numbers.

"I was surprised how well it went," Gallant said. "Everyone took it seriously; we really pushed through it."

They took it so seriously, that just like their adult directors normally do, seniors observed the rehearsal, jotting down "notes" to go over afterward. Sarah Miklius of Palatine scrutinized the dances, while Jenny Lim of Mount Prospect tracked the vocals and Kim Whalen and Ryan Wolfe, both of Arlington Heights made sure actors hit their cues.

"I think it really helped keep everyone's spirits up," Gallant added.

Petrillo said he and his staff were impressed by the teens' professionalism and politeness, and he wrote to the musical's director, Kate Costello, and to Principal Eileen Manno to tell them just that.

The show opened Friday and will continue with performances this weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday's show is already sold out.

Miklius, one of the lead dancers in the musical, noted how the whole idea of rehearsing on their own mirrored the show's plot, in which teens wage a campaign against the local minister to bring back music and dancing.

"In the true spirit of 'Footloose,'" Miklius wrote in a Facebook message to the cast, "we're going against the Reverend (poking fun at the Rev. Corey Brost, St. Viator President who called off school) and holding a dance ... rehearsal."

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