Tuscola play

It’s a big week at Tuscola High, and not just because the basketball team is on the doorstep of the IHSA state finals.

The thriving theater department is set to give a rousing — and long-awaited — sendoff to its home since Day 1: the ancient cafetorium, which is part lunchroom, part concessions stand, part stage and part, well, “everything in between,” 17-year drama director Johanna Steffens said.

In other words, it’s not quite Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

This week’s production of “Grease” will be the last in the antiquated, shared setup. It takes place in 1959, which happens to be the year of Tuscola’s first graduating class.

“I knew Grease would be the perfect choice for our last musical on this original stage,” said Steffens, calling it a “full circle” moment. “It fits our ‘End of an Era’ theme.”

More than 30 students are taking part. Opening night is Wednesday with daily performances through Sunday (the final show is already sold out).

As part of school renovations beginning this spring, the cafetorium “will be transformed into a small auditorium space next year,” Steffens said. That has students and the drama director — a Tuscola grad herself — tapping their toes in anticipation.

“As someone who has dedicated my career to theatre here, I never dreamed I would be in the position of getting to direct in a new space,” Steffens said. “Time really flies when doing what you love.”