Greeley West’s Peggy Freemole leads a theater program at the end of an era

A fractured foot barely slows drama director and Greeley West High School teacher Peggy Freemole.

Because hey, the show must go on. Three months after tripping in a pothole in Denver, Freemole decided to slip into an orthopedic shoe again to ease the discomfort in his foot for 12 to 13 hours a day in preparation for the final production of the movie. school on its old stage.

“A Fond Farewell Bidding Adieu to the Greeley West Stage” will be presented on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the 450-seat auditorium which is scheduled for demolition as part of the ongoing transition to the rebuilt Greeley West.

The near-complete farewell performance will be a musical review, highlighting iconic numbers from musical theater performances over the past 23 years – the lifespan of Greeley West’s current stage. Greeley West students will unite with nearly three dozen alumni to perform all 36 numbers during the 2 to 2.5 hour presentation.

Knowing this would be the last year for the much-loved and cherished stage and theater – the home of the school’s performing arts departments – Freemole offered music criticism to “look back at how things went.” passed here”.

Freemole, known as ‘Frem’ to her students, spoke with the senior citizens of Greeley West because with the farewell concept they wouldn’t get the chance to perform in ‘their own spring show’. But she didn’t have to convince the students, starting with Bridget Hulac, president of the school chapter of the Thespian Society.

“I loved the idea,” said Hulac, who worked in theater department productions for four years at West. “It was a chance to meet people I had heard of, people she tells stories about.”

Freemole, in her 33rd year at Greeley West, is a driving force in the theater department she oversees.

Melissa Gattis, a 2006 Greeley West graduate who took part in musical theater productions under Freemole, said ‘Frem’ kept students at ‘a high standard of excellence’. Greeley West shows such as “Mary Poppins” and “Peter Pan” included students flying around the theater and for “Singing In The Rain” there was rain on stage.

GREELEY, CO – MARCH 03: Greeley West High School theater principal and teacher Peggy Freemole, left, speaks to the Tribune during the rehearsal of ‘A Fond Farewell: Bidding Adieu to the Greeley West Theatre’ in the auditorium at Greeley West High School in Greeley, March 3, 2022. The 450-seat auditorium, which has housed the school’s performing arts program since 2000, is set to be demolished over the approaching spring break of the completion of the new Greeley West High School. (Alex McIntyre/staff photographer)

“She’s so detailed and cares about her students,” said Gattis, a member of the committee that planned “A Fond Farewell.” “She pushes us because she knows excellence is attainable.”

Freemole was influenced to pursue teaching by one of her own high school teachers in Viborg, South Dakota. Barb Knutson was Freemole’s speech, debate and drama teacher. Originally thinking she would be a speech therapist, Freemole was transformed by acting while traveling in Europe with her mother and Knutson where they attended productions.

Freemole said she never had the idea or the desire to perform professionally. Teaching was the goal. She attended what is now called Northern State University in Aberdeen, studying acting and speaking.

“His love for it,” Freemole said of Knutson. “His inspiration and his love for her. Once teaching started, that was what I wanted to do.

Freemole declined to give her age, but said she would spend time in the rebuilt Greeley West with its state-of-the-art 650-seat theater before retiring.

Freemole said she had heard in the past that she was “crazy” because of her drive and work ethic. Freemole said she was “ok with that” because she was taught to work for things. Freemole said she had a “privileged life” and was willing to put in the work to get the best result. She wants to work for the best result.

“I want it to be fair and the productions to be amazing,” she said. “Absolutely, it’s a labor of love for children and the art of theatre.

Marjorie N. McClure