They’re dancing like the stars

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First Posted: 9/9/2014

“You better shape up, ‘cause I need a man. And my heart is set on you!

“You better shape up. You better understand. To my heart I must be true!”

As Olivia Newton-Johns’ recorded voice sang the catchy lyrics from the musical “Grease,” the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins mascot, Tux, flung himself to the ground and did a few sit-ups.

Was he in shape? Was he good enough to dance with his lithe partner, Lauren Timek of West Pittston?

As Tux and Timek rehearsed their routine for “Dancing Like The Stars” on a recent Monday evening at the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Plains Township, it appeared the mascot was in great shape.

Dressed in a tuxedo jacket and his plush, head-to-foot costume, Tux scampered around the room, hoisted Timek toward the ceiling and even somersaulted to the delight and appreciative catcalls of other dancers.

Thanks in part to the rambunctious Tux, the mood was light-hearted.

But the fund-raiser for which 18 dancers are preparing has a serious side.

“Dancing Like The Stars,” set for Sept. 19 at the Woodlands, will raise money for the Patient Kidney Association, which supports kidney-disease families, awareness and research.

“I could have written a letter to the donor’s family,” said organizer Phil Meagher, who received a kidney transplant in February from a woman whose name he does not know.

“But what would I say besides the usual platitudes? I could write ‘I’m so sorry for your loss’ and ‘I’m so grateful,’ but I didn’t want to write something trite. This event is my way of saying thank-you to all the donors and all their families.”

Meagher admits he doesn’t have the physical stamina to dance himself, but he recruited people — and a penguin — who have plenty of energy and enthusiasm, even if most of them say they don’t have much dance experience.

“Not since I was a kid, when I took ballet and tap,” said Crystal Kominski, 34, of Plains, who will perform a flirtatious, Broadway-style dance to the song “I’m A Good Girl” with fellow dancer Erin Pikul of Wilkes-Barre.

Stephanie Lynch, 28, of Wyoming, said in recent years she’s done more watching of television’s “Dancing With The Stars” than actual dancing herself. Now she’s thrilled to be involved with something similar to the popular show.

“This is a dream realized,” she said before running through a rehearsal of a disco dance with partner Sam Granteed, 26, of Pittston.

Granteed, for his part, said he’s been dancing since last November, when he became involved with musical theater. “Right now I’m in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ at Little Theatre. Before that, it was ‘Hair’ at Nuangola.”

Participants were able to choose the type of dance they wanted to do, said Mal Talmadge of Plains Township, who opted to dance a waltz with partner Amanda Demming of Wilkes-Barre. “That’s all I can do,” Talmadge said.

“We were just discussing what we’ll wear,” said Rhonda Hunzer, 43, of Swoyersville, who will perform a country-style hoedown dance with Mike Catalano, 29, of Scranton. “It won’t be overalls,” she said with a laugh, indicating that kind of outfit might prevent her from swinging her leg over his head, as the choreography calls for her to do at one point.

Each dancer hopes to sell a lot of tickets, Meagher said, which will ensure that he or she has a large cheering section.

Tickets cost $15 each, and people who attend will also be able to vote for their favorite dancers at $1 per vote.

Helping Meagher put the show together are Gina Malsky from the Dance Theatre of Wilkes-Barre and Tammy Blannard from the West Side All Starz. Radio personality Frankie Warren from Magic 93 will be the emcee.