From Mormon Missions to Rydell High
Daxton Bloomquist and Eric Geil aren’t the only cast members “coming home” to Kansas City to perform in Grease, but they are the only ones who left their missions to do so!
When they showed up for the first day of rehearsals at Starlight Theatre on Aug. 28, these two had more in common than being cast in Grease. Bloomquist and Geil had just traveled the country together for nearly two years – as cast members of the 2nd national tour of the mega-hit musical comedy The Book of Mormon!
Technically, Bloomquist didn’t leave Mormon to do Grease (he had retired his Elder McKinley role in February after completing more than 1,400 performances during 4+ years with the show on Broadway and on tour), but the opportunity to return to Starlight prompted him to take a break from his self-imposed performance break.
“With my blond hair, I didn’t really see myself as a Greaser,” he said. But when Starlight production director Kent Andel nudged him to consider an ensemble role in the show, Bloomquist saw it as an opportunity to see his family in El Dorado, Kan. (near Wichita), recharge his creative batteries by learning an entire musical in less than two weeks, and return to the Starlight stage where he had performed only once before.
Fresh from graduating from Wichita State University, Bloomquist landed a role in the ensemble of Starlight’s production of The Producers in August 2010 and earned his Actors’ Equity card. That fall, he was off to New York. After a year on Disney Cruise Lines, he landed his Mormon Broadway role.
As for Geil, he really did leave Mormon to do Grease – but only temporarily. With the tour already on a brief break, he requested an additional weeklong leave of absence from his ensemble role as Elder Grant, Elder Church and a host of other wacky characters to slick back his hair and morph into a Greaser at Starlight for a week.
Geil grew up in Grandview, Mo., was home-schooled and left Kansas City to earn his bachelor’s degree in musical theatre from Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Before his senior year of college, he, too, earned his Actors’ Equity card at Starlight while performing in the ensemble of 2014’s The Sound of Music.
The following spring break, Geil made it through four rounds of a cattle-call audition for The Book of Mormon, attended Mormon tap camp, went back to school for a week and, then, had his final Mormon audition on the very same day as his Senior Showcase in New York. Three weeks later – May 12, 2015 – he went on tour and has been sharing scriptures with Ugandans ever since!
Before he returns to the road on Sept. 18, Geil is reveling in seeing family in Kansas City and “developing relationships with his Grease cast members as they’re developing the show.” He’s particularly excited to sing his “Mooning” solo with Jan (Sara Reinecke) in Act I for “a hometown crowd in Starlight’s 8,000-seat house!”
As for Bloomquist, he’s thoroughly enjoying the chance to come back to Starlight as a more mature performer. “The theatre community is thriving in Kansas City,” he said. “It’s exciting to bring back your talents and share your insights with younger performers who are exactly where I was when I performed at Starlight seven years ago!”
While they haven’t had a lot of free time with Grease’s busy rehearsal schedule, both actors have a few things on their to-do lists while in Kansas City:
- Bloomquist plans to explore Westport a bit, sample local craft breweries and, of course, visit Joe’s Kansas City. Maybe Oceans of Fun, too.
- Geil will surely join him at Joe’s, but also has Local Pig and his family’s newly opened downtown restaurant, Songbird Cafe, on his dining agenda.
Don’t miss the chance to see this dynamic duo convert from Mormonism to 1950s high-schoolers during Grease at Starlight!
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