At 2 p.m. on May 14, members of ’s Strawberry Hill Players will perform the jubilant musical “Grease” and raise money for LIVESTRONG at the same time.
When you purchase tickets to the matinee on the organization's website and enter the coupon code “livestrongshs” — you will receive a discounted ticket price and help a great cause. One dollar from each ticket sold will go to LIVESTRONG, the organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering people affected by cancer.
"I spoke with the group about it and they all wanted to do it, a lot of them had people in their families who have had cancer... it's a disease that affects everyone," Tom DeSalvo, the production’s director, told Patch. "We want to do more in the community as a unit, not just to give back, but as a way for them to bond as a group."
Rica Mendes, Fairfield and Westchester County LIVESTRONG Army Leader, began working with LIVESTRONG around two years ago when she was approached by a Leader in New York City after completing a 200-mile bike ride.
“A friend dared me to ride 100 miles in a day, that hurt… and when I finished that, my friend dared me to ride 200,” Mendes said.
For Mendes, being a Leader has helped her to fill in a crucial gap in the Fairfield County and Westchester County region.
“There’s a feeling that if you’re in the metro area, you can go to New York City or go to New Haven, but that’s not always the case,” Mendes said. “We’ve been able to bring together local resources to help people who live here.”
Mendes is constantly looking for ways to engage the community, and in particular, to engage high school students in LIVESTRONG’s work. She came across Stamford High’s recent Sing-Along “Grease” at the while checking local calendars for another event.
“I used to do 'Rocky Horror,' so anything sing-along catches my eye,” Mendes laughed. “I saw the information about the show and said, I wonder, most matinees are hard to fill, so I reached out about a partnership.”
Mendes also has a history with “Grease.” In high school, she performed in a production of the show, understudying several parts, including the part played by Marissa Jaret Winokur who would go on to win a Tony for her performance in “Hairspray.” Later on, “Grease” found her again while she was living and working in Israel.
“I was in Israel for a year and when my friends went home at the end of the school year, I got a job at an English-immersion camp. I taught drama there and ended up directing five productions of 'Grease,'” Mendes said.
Even more the reason that when she stumbled upon the local production of "Grease," Mendes contacted DeSalvo, who has a history with "Grease" as well.
"I played Sonny in it," DeSalvo said. "It was one of the most fun shows I did as a young actor."
The cast of over 40 students from both Stamford High and are busy in technical rehearsals this week and dress rehearsals next week to prepare for opening night.
"It's the perfect cast for this show — they’re a fun group. They have a natural eagerness that you need for these characters, they’ll be believable,” DeSalvo said.
A perfect cast, a great deal on tickets, and a great cause, it's easy to see the stars aligning for the May 14 matinee.
“It’ll be a fun day out, a family-friendly show compared to what's on TV…and if you know someone — a friend or family member — with cancer, bring them along,” Mendes said. “It’s due to be a great show and we want to fill the house.”