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Drama provides theater administrator with personal merit

This article is the first in a two-part series about Greg Grannis, a local performer and director who works with Roger Rocka’s Good Company Theater. Check back May 26 for the second installment.

Whenever I witness a terrific live theater production, I am struck with the desire to be involved in acting after high school.

An individual who lives out this aspiration is Greg Grannis, President of Roger Rocka’s Junior Company Foundation, a division of Roger Rocka’s Good Company Theater. Both provide local entertainment and an opportunity to obtain experience in the acting arena for those who share a love of dramatics. Grannis’ parents introduced him to the Junior Good Company Theater group at a young age as a way to help him break out of his shell and overcome his shyness.

He agreed to conduct an interview about his journey through the acting world and how his experiences assist him in other areas of his life.

Houts: How did you become involved with acting and specifically with Roger Rocka’s?

Grannis: I was a very shy child and my mother was a singer, so I preferred singing over speaking. When I was called on in class I?d rarely answer, but since I knew that I could sing I?d participate in school performances and my mom took me to auditions at Good Company Players for the Junior Group. It got me out of my shell and helped me realize there wasn?t anything to be afraid of. It changed the rest of my life.

Houts: What did it take to work your way up to the Junior Board of Directors?

Grannis: I was in the Junior Company for four years, all the way until I was a freshman in high school. When I went to college, I majored in Communications. I also got involved with singing and performing again. When I got back to Fresno, I ran into my old Good Company director and he encouraged me to audition for the adult shows. They also wanted me to direct the Juniors since I?d been one for so long.

I directed three or four years for the Juniors and then the Director’s Board approached me to help them raise money for scholarships. I did and I was elected President of the Junior Company Foundation. We do a lot of work for the Juniors, including fundraisers. We raise money for educational needs. We?ve sent some folks to Italy for soprano workshops and to a variety of other things that are entertainment or performance based.

Chris Colfer [Kurt Hummel on Glee] was in the Junior Company. I directed him, so it?s good to see kids grow up and do a lot of things with the acting training they’ve received. On the other hand, not a lot of people go on to be on Glee. Some end up as lawyers or go into politics, but they all handle themselves very well because we?ve helped train them to be that way and to feel comfortable performing or speaking in front of people.

Houts: What plays have you participated in?

Grannis: A Chorus Line, Sugar, Singing in the Rain, Cats, Music Man — which I performed in twice and directed and choreographed once — and Bye Bye Birdie — which was my first leading role when I came back from school. I?ve choreographed and directed for shows quite a bit. In fact, now I do more of that than performing because the time commitment is so great. Roger Rocka’s shows consist of seven weeks of rehearsing and nine weeks onstage.

For the last two years I?ve been doing more directing. I just finished choreographing The Phantom of the Opera and I will choreograph Hello, Dolly in the summer. I?m also going to choreograph and direct a version of Willy Wonka in Clovis.

Houts: What were your favorite roles to play and why?

Grannis: My number one favorite role was when I played Percy, the lead in The Scarlet Pimpernel, six or seven years ago. It was not only a very challenging role, but the play was almost all singing. I had 10 solo/duet songs. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a big vocal show and I had to work very hard and prepare for eight months prior to the opening. I worked with one of the top vocal coaches in the state.

Once the show got out, everyone had reached a professional level. Some of the cast were old friends and some were new friends, but we all still keep in touch. At that time, my dad got sick and unfortunately passed away. If it wasn?t for that cast keeping me and the show together, it would?ve collapsed. Even more important than the show, we were friends and performers and it was a united front.

Please return to The Feather to continue Grannis’s theater experiences; Part II will be published May 26. For more drama articles, read the May 11 article, ‘Twelve Angry Jurors’ to close drama season.

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