Credit: Brian Cohen
Grease Swings into Crozet
It’s one of the most iconic and well known musicals of the 20th century, embodying the wild and free spirit of an entire decade now immortalized in song. It’s hard to forget the classic John Travolta smolder, or the soundtrack that helped make him famous. The one, true, High School Musical. Thanks to the efforts of the Western Albemarle Drama Department, Grease is coming to Crozet as this year’s spring musical.
“It’s about the time in your life, when you’re a teenager and you feel like rebelling against your parents, against your culture, against school, and against society, that’s what the play’s about. And I think that’s why people like it so much,” says Drama instructor and Musical Director Caitlin Pitts. “It’s one of the most popular musicals ever, and it’s just very fun, it’s a super fun musical. The music, that’s the primary thing about this show, the music is so great, it’s so fun, it’s feel good music.”
Grease was introduced to the national stage in 1971, at a Chicago club where it reached criticism and praise for it’s racy and often inappropriate portrayals of teen life. By 1972 it was on Broadway, and by the end of it’s run, a record breaking 8 years and 3,388 performances later, the tale had already hit critically acclaimed fame in Hollywood when the 1978 film became the highest grossing of the year.
Sophomore Cutter Mendenhall will be playing Danny Zuko, the lead, or the ‘John Travolta’ of the show.
“To me, even though it’s not the most ‘morally strict’ show, you’re portraying an era, and the time period it’s in. With the gangs and all the kinds of social categories…those are real things that people really did.”
“It feels pretty amazing, it feels legit,” says Greaser William Sigmon, “I feel like I’m back in the 50’s. I’m upset that it’s almost over, we’ve just got this last rehearsal and then four shows, I’m excited, but nervous at the same time.”
Junior Lauren Rider is playing Frenchie, a Pink Lady in the upcoming production, a character with plenty to work with. “If you look at the script for Frenchy, and the backstory, there really isn’t that much, so I really got to come up with whatever I want.” This gives Lauren the ability to turn Frenchie into her own ideal character, one that strays away from the wild and reckless behavior of some of the other characters in the show. “I thought it would be a really fun character to play and something a little bit different and challenging.” Another perk? She will be sung to by Western Albemarle Principal Darah Bonham, in his soulful rendition of “Beauty School Dropout.”
Moving back into the era itself, among the really iconic and well known aspects of the show are the costumes and styles of the characters.
Sophomore Alice Ferrall and her mother Elizabeth are the costume designers for the show. “We have to try to think about colors and shapes, like what is their personality? Are they more mature, childlike, are they a little scandalous or conservative, so it’s fun to try to see through the eyes of the character and see what they would pick out to wear,” said Alice. “[We’re pulling inspiration] more from Broadway productions, because the musical is a lot different from the movie, I think it’s interesting to see the parallels between the two and compare and contrast what they’re like.”
“This is my last show at Western, and it’s actually kind of heartbreaking. I’m kinda mad I didn’t do more,” says senior Jackie Burke. “This is just so much fun, the experience is just amazing…Having all that practice I’m going to get to show people is really an amazing feeling.”
Grease will be performed March 24th, 25th, and 26th. Tickets can be purchased at the WAHS main office, Crozet Mudhouse, and online at ticketriver.com. You can also buy tickets at the door 30 minutes before each performance for an additional cost.
“The best part is the crowd’s reaction, when they sing along or laugh at the jokes,” says crew member Lauren Sawyer. “I can’t wait to see our late nights pay off.”