Pequot Lakes High School will soon present its production of “Grease-the School Version” with permission from Samuel French, Inc. Of course, at the center of everyone's attention will be Sandy Olsson (played by junior Aryana Himle) and Danny Zuko (played by senior Landen Besler).


Like many who perform in high school theater, Himle has been in previous performances. At her former school in Florida, Columbia High School, she not only was the lead role in “That's Not How I Remember It," she also directed a play in her theater class.

Unlike most of her fellow cast mates, however, Himle has had a part in a commercial. When she was younger, she was in a commercial for Deerwood Bank. Perhaps that's why her acting aspirations don't stop with theater.

“I've wanted to be an actress for five years,” Himle said. “It's the occupation I've wanted to do longest. I feel like I'm kind of stuck.”

Himle would like to work in television in the future, though she said theater itself is more fun and exciting because of the adrenaline of having an audience. She came to tryouts for any role that would have her. This will be her first production in Pequot Lakes.

“I was kind of surprised to get the role of Sandy,” Himle said. “I missed theater because last year I wasn't in anything. I was focusing on my singing. This year I missed the stage and the thrill and adrenaline. I wanted to get back into it and auditioned.”

This year was not only her chance to get back on stage, but to face her personal fears.

“Singing is my biggest insecurity about myself,” Himle said. “I've always thought I can't sing. People always told me I could, but I never believed in myself. I kind of took this chance as a way to see if I could sing. If I didn't get the part I would know I needed to work more on my singing, but I got the part.”


For Besler, Danny Zuko was the chance to hold a lead role before graduating high school.

Besler previously portrayed The Great and Powerful Oz in “The Wizard of Oz,” and his acting experience stopped there. He would have liked to be in a play last year, but he learned early how work can get in the way of hobbies.

“I didn't do a play last year because I was busy and just got a job,” Besler said. “Then this play, I really thought I missed out last year and wanted to try out for this one. I missed being in a play.”

"Grease" offered Besler the chance to get a lead role, which he wanted a great deal.

“I wanted the lead role for my senior year,” Besler said. “They were doing this play. I had never actually seen the movie before I tried out. I have watched the movie now.”

To prepare for his role, Besler has watched the film version and he is using John Travolta's portrayal of Danny Zuko as an inspiration for his own performance. Just as when he played Oz, Besler thinks watching the original film helps him understand his character better.

“”(I like) watching the movies and how the actors portrayed the roles, getting context in all the lines so you really know what they are saying,” Besler said. “I think it's fun how he acts in it. I don't usually act how John Travolta does, but it's fun to play that role.”

Besler likes theater for the way it draws all eyes to the cast on stage.

“I really like talking in front of people,” Besler said. “It's fun being the center of attention for a little while.”

Though not seeking a career in acting, Besler would still like it if acting continued to be part of his life.

“I definitely think it's a really fun hobby and if I have any time I'd really love to join a play,” Besler said.

'Grease-the School Version'

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.
  • Where: Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
  • Tickets: $5 at the door for all ages. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
  • Director: This is the third play Susan Mathison-Young has directed in the Pequot Lakes School District and the second musical in the last three years. “Grease-the School Version” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
  • Cast and crew: There are 35 students participating in the high school play, including two specifically designated for tech. Landen Besler, Aryana Himle, Kiley Newman,Tyler Flowers, Teagan Johnson, Noah Crowley, Kailey Gerdes, Andrew Schiessl, Mataya Larson, Alex Kempka, Naarah Newmann, Lucas Taylor, Mikalya Anderson,Trinity Bailles, River Curtis, Cassidy Shankle, Hunter Johnson, Mikyla Sundstrom, Maysa Glawe, Maeve Rohr, Tabitha Kibwaa, Zoe Huber, Ashley Niemczycki, Alessandra Hartwig, Lauren Maciej, Holly Schiessl, Erin Bryant, Lilly Palmer, September Jaekel, Annie Lindholm, Thomas Taylor, Erin Kempka, Dana Hammer, Jessica Fabian, Natalie Thrun.