Amazed by ‘Grace’
The Lehigh Valley Charter HS of the Arts hosted a March 3 evening charity premier of “Getting Grace,” a comedy/drama about a teenage girl losing her battle with cancer.
This was the finale of a full-day event where the film was shown consecutively at three Lehigh Valley venues. There was a morning screening at the Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas at Arts Quest followed by a matinee premier at the Roxy Theatre in Northampton.
Produced, co-written and directed by Bethlehem Catholic HS graduate Daniel Roebuck, the indie movie was filmed entirely in the Lehigh Valley. Roebuck also stars as the socially awkward and depressed funeral director, Bill Jankowski, who learns how to finally live from spunky Grace, as she seeks to find out about what happens after death. The film introduces Bethlehem native Madelyn Dundon as the title character.
At $22 per ticket, moviegoers enjoyed full red carpet treatment. The stars and producers arrived by tour bus and gathered inside the school for autographs and photo ops. All proceeds from ticket sales benefited the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley (PCFLV), the Lehigh Valley Charter High School of the Arts, the Pennsylvania Playhouse, Civic Theatre and MunOpCo Music Theatre.
Roebuck praised the nonprofits for providing the input and support that has made his project a success. He was also grateful for assistance he received from the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Actress Madelyn Dundon, like Roebuck was a graduate of Bethlehem Catholic High School. When asked if she was nervous about shaving her head for the role, Dundon replied, “No. I was excited. It was something that had to happen.”
She related that her fondest memory of the experience was a PCFLV luncheon she and others from the cast and crew attended halfway through filming. “That was a very humbling, exciting afternoon. We got to meet with families of children who have survived cancer and families of those who have lost their battle with cancer.”
Dundon is currently a sophomore at West Virginia University.
Charter Arts CEO Diane LaBelle took pride in the role the school played in providing a place for auditions, as well as providing actors and artists who contributed to the film.
Director of Theatre Diane Wagner landed a substantial role as Mary Jankowski, Bill’s sister and co-owner of the fictional funeral home.
Jacob Williams, a senior at the charter school landed the role of “Doug,” Grace’s cancer warrior boyfriend.
Charter Arts alumnae Ana Raiola portrayed “Bethany,” Jankowski’s love interest in flashback scenes. She painted the “Sunrise/Sunset” landscape that is a touchstone prop in the movie. Raiola also provided other artwork featured in the movie, including the illustrations on Audrey’s casket.
Art students Arial Posh and Bria Pickel from Charter Arts and several community artists and their artwork were featured in an art festival scene filmed at Burnside Plantation. The works were on display in the school’s Corpora Gallery.
Easton-based Neal Fehnel, a.k.a. “Balloons the Clown,” who has been a friend of Roebuck’s for 42 years, appeared as his alter-ego in the movie. “We started as clowns together in the Lions All-Star Circus,” said Fehnel.
Roebuck also sought out area musicians for the film’s soundtrack, some of whom entertained audiences at the three premiers. These include Alyssa Garcia, Switchback Mountain, and Heidi Ott, backed by guitarist Joel Zingone.
Buster Roebuck played his father’s character, “Bill Jankowski” in the film’s flashback scenes. “It was a really great experience for me,” said the younger Roebuck about his role. “It’s not really the career path that I’ve chosen for myself,” explained Roebuck, a sophomore and fire technology major at Glendale Community College in California.
Daniel Roebuck announced March 23 will be opening day for “Getting Grace.” He urged the audience who “love it” to give it high scores at Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. “If you didn’t like it, keep your opinions to yourselves,” he quipped.
Information: gettinggracethemovie.com; charterarts.org