Pacing his breath, left foot first, then right, he looks up and sees the limelight shining center stage. His heart begins to race; the rush of anxiety can’t be controlled.
Now he stands in circle with the other cast members. As they sing in harmony, Part of Your World, he notices his strategically placed water bottles on each side of the stage, and he’s ready to go.
He is now center stage, belting his heart out.
Senior David Gretchko has been involved in performing arts since the second grade. His first acts were talent shows at wilderness camps.
“Middle school is when it really hit,” Gretchko said. “I started doing the community theater and the school show.”
Summer programs further developed Gretchko’s interests in the arts.
Horton Hears a Who was Gretchko’s first big performance. While guarding a little speck of dust that contained a whole world of people living inside, an elephant – Horton – finds a purpose in his life. During this play, Horton wasn’t the only one who learned a few things.
Gretchko discovered his life’s biggest passion: the theater.
“It was by far one of the best roles that fit me,” Gretchko said. “That was when I decided that I needed to do this professionally.”
He realized that this was exactly what he wanted to be doing for the rest of his life.
Going on from there, Gretchko continued to be involved in theater programs. Seaholm became a new adventure in which he knew he was ready for.
“I’ve been watching Seaholm musical for a while,” Gretchko said, “because I live so close by. I’ve always looked up to it.”
When Gretchko first began his high school career, the musical became one of his main objectives.
“I first met David when he was in eighth grade,” Seaholm Choral and Spring Musical Director Laurie Frick said. “I was at one of the Derby concerts and I saw him sing for the first time. Then he joined choir his freshman year and I’ve been working with him ever since.”
“Today Mrs. Frick is my mentor.” Gretchko said. “I was in shock when she’d tell me I’m too loud, I’m not doing that well, or not to get a big ego now. Today we’re the best of friends and she told me she did that freshman year just to make me humble.”
Gretchko emerged himself into the several art opportunities at Seaholm High School.
“Most kids are into physical sports,” Lisa Gretchko – Gretchko’s mother – said, “but this is his sport.”
Between the singing group C, choir, and the spring musical, Gretchko learned to balance the arts along with scholastics.
“It’s all really about scheduling your time,” Gretchko said. “I take many APs and core classes but I schedule them all first tri so I can concentrate on musical and choir for the rest of the year. I make sure not to over exert myself.”
Field Day is another huge part of Gretchko’s involvement at Seaholm.
Both junior and senior year, senior Johnny Mullen took charge of Field Day floor show with Gretchko and three other classmates.
“He’s very blunt,” Mullen said, “even though he gets feisty sometimes it’s hard not to love.”
“He’s different in groups,” Frick said, “sometimes it’s hard for him to pull back with his big voice, but he works on that.”
Working with others is something Gretchko enjoys.
“Our group had a great bond,” Mullen said. “Field Day was a fun experience.”
And now, the Spring Musical is Gretchko’s next prospect. Gretchko recently got the lead in Seaholm’s upcoming Fiddler on the Roof. Although rehearsals generally are dreaded and seem strenuous, Gretchko finds bliss in such simple times.
“By definition it’s fun, I mean it is a play,” Gretchko said. “I always love walking into the rehearsal room and I love belting at the top of my lungs.”
“We’re a Jewish family,” Lisa Gretchko said, “so Fiddler is a huge tradition for us. I played the daughter when I was thirteen years old and now David has the lead role.”
Gretchko has seen the musical with his family more times than he has seen any other musical production. He is prepared to make the best of his last Seaholm play with his musical family.
Junior Sara Kmiec has known Gretchko since her freshman year. And this year she was casted in the Spring Musical with him.
“He likes being the center of attention, but not too much,” Kmiec said. “He’s a modest diva. It’s fun working with him on the play.”
“I think he’ll bring light to the role,” Lisa Gretchko said, “playing Tevye will also help enlighten David. I’m preparing to be that mom who will cry at every show.”
Being a part of the musical and choir are activities that Gretchko cherishes. The memories he makes and the people he meets are irreplaceable.
“Everyone at Seaholm is so optimistic,” Gretchko said, “and the energy is so special to auditions.”
“My first day in C, David was the only one who talked to me and was really nice,” freshman Hunter Williams said. “He’s actually really funny.”
Senior Cece Barron has done Field Day, choir, and the Spring Musical with Gretchko for four years.
“He’s very talented,” Barron said. “He’s definitely made me a better actor just from all his experience.”
Gretchko’s experiences stretch across a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Last weekend, Gretchko was in New York for a Master Class.
“I went to a Master Class to practice my technique,” Gretchko said. “I did vocal coaching and a dance class.”
“David Gretchko is probably the hardest working student that I have ever had,” Frick said. “He is a perfectionist and he always challenges himself. He is disciplined and always is trying to get better.”
French Woods Summer Camp of New York has really helped develop Gretchko in his performance skills.
“He used to only do YMCA camps,” said Lisa Gretchko, “but we decided to send him to a performing arts camp like French Woods where he could do what he loves.”
Every three weeks, a performance is put on during the summer camp. The hustle and hurry of the acts have given Gretchko skills necessary to be successful in the arts.
College is the next hurdle for him. The auditions are just another opportunity in Gretchko’s eyes.
“My favorite part is auditioning because I think it’s so fun preparing new material for colleges” Gretchko said.
Two different types of auditions are unified or regular. Regular entails a whole day on campus whereas unified auditions linger over three to four days.
Gretchko said, “unified works better for me but I’ll have to miss a week of school. I’m doing one in Chicago at The Palmer House soon.”
Some auditions for colleges are also done by sending in videos. Gretchko filmed one with his father’s camera. The first time the microphone didn’t pick up his voice, the second time the face shot wasn’t enough, yet the third time was a charm.
“I’m also auditioning for the University of Michigan,” Gretchko said, “and that one I’ll definitely do on campus.”
From college to his future, Gretchko knows what he wants and stays true to his passions.
“Gretchko is very particular in what he likes,” Barron said, “he’s flamboyant and very strong-willed in everything he does. He’s a natural born leader.”
“He has a big voice along with his big personality,” Williams said, “he’s bound to be a star.”
An actor, singer, dancer, director and costumer. Gretchko is capable of it all, but where do most people see him in 15 years?
“Directing on Broadway,” Frick said.
“Broadway,” Mullen said.
“New York, maybe Broadway,” Barron said.
“Broadway,” Kmiec said.
“Easily Broadway,” Williams said.
“Broadway is in his future,” Lisa Gretchko said.
Gretchko knows what he wants and he has every ambition to get there.
“He’s grown up,” Frick said. “It has taken him a long time to really understand his voice, be able to control it and sing with this depth. He has matured and grown as a leader.”
Lisa Gretchko said, “David once told me, ‘mom, I’m a performer because this is what I do best, this is what I’m good at.’ From then on I knew that he was focused on his dream.”
By the end of his performance, Gretchko walks off stage and he looks to his fellow cast members. With a cue, they all line up on stage, the curtains begin to rise, as does Gretchko’s heart rate – for, his favorite part is about to happen.
The crowd begins to applaud the musical family. Gretchko notices his mother and father in the mass. With a look of approval, he can’t hold back his smile.