FHSD Senior PALS Enjoy Spring Dinner and Play at FHN

Posted on 04/07/2017
FHSD Senior PALS Enjoy Spring Dinner and Play at FHN

Wednesday, April 5, was the fifth and final Senior PALS (Patrons Assisting and Lending Support) event of the 2016-17 school year. More than two dozen senior residents of the Francis Howell School District attended, who were treated to a 1950s-themed diner dinner and the Francis Howell North (FHN) theater production of “Grease.”

Senior PALS events are intended to better engage members of the FHSD community that are 60 and older. Seniors are invited to spend time in FHSD schools for a delicious meal, performances by FHSD students, guest speakers, and more. Thanks to the generosity and support of Sodexo, FHSD’s food service provider, there is no cost to attend any Senior PALS events. The results of a recent survey of PALS participants indicate that the most popular event is the ”dinner and a show” program agenda, and it was a win-win for both area seniors and the cast and crew of “Grease.”

George Holbrook and his wife Lois have attended several Senior PALS events, and they always appreciate the opportunity to get more information about the District. “It’s been very enjoyable, what I’ve really wanted to get out of it was a better understanding of what the District is doing and why they are doing it,” George said. “I think the Board and the presenters have been very good at explaining things. I was surprised at the complex finances in a district this large.” And the fact that the program included “Grease” didn’t hurt either. “Well of course, the fact that the play was ‘Grease’ was what brought out my wife!” 

Kim Sulzner has been the Director of Theater Arts at FHN for more than a quarter of a century, and she says the show is full of firsts. “We have about 70 kids involved, cast and crew, and this is the first time in 27 years that we have a live band for the musical, so it’s cool. We started rehearsing all the way back in October, when they started to design the sets and create the prop list. Auditions were in February, and we open (April 6).” The production also marks the first time with a live audience for the dress rehearsal, but Sulzner likes the idea of having the seniors in attendance. “Hopefully (students are) going to feed off the audience, because there’s a lot of interaction, and the energy of the audience always amps up the energy on stage. I hope that it will help to prepare them for whatever comes in the next three days.”

FHN Senior Zachary Cary is the Drama Club President, and also plays Kenickie in the production. He appreciates engaging a different audience. “It’s a great opportunity for us, we get to really reach out to the rest of our community that might not typically come to see our shows,” said Cary. We also get the advantage of having a preview night where we can test audience reaction, gauge where we’re going to get laughs, and to find things we need to work on or fix before we open tomorrow.”

How does having a live audience help? “It’s kind of scary honestly, because we haven’t gone all the way through without stopping yet,” said Emily Henry, who plays Rizzo. “So this will be the first time and hopefully we will make it through the whole thing, but I’m sure it will be great and it’s
exciting!”


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