Grease will hit the stage at the Chemainus Theatre Festival stage, from June 8 to Sept. 1.
Grease is set in an American high school, Rydell High, in 1958-59.
That was the year Barbie dolls made their debut, panty hose was invented and The Twilight Zone premiered on TV.
The clean-cut values associated with white, middle-class America were becoming tarnished with increasing unrest, and the Civil Rights Commission came into being. Amidst this social conflict, teens began to emerge in popular culture with conflicting stereotypes of straight-laced and pure, like this play’s Sandra Dee, or the “greasers” culture with their particularly poised disdain of all things conventional.
Join the Chemainus Theatre in this new summer blockbuster in reliving the story of Sandy and Danny, who fell for each other during a carefree summer fling, but when the school year begins, Danny finds himself torn between good-girl Sandy and his image with the too-cool-for-school T-Birds and the bubble gum snapping, chain smoking Pink Ladies.
Can Danny maintain his ‘cool’ and still make Sandy his girl?
While their peers sing and dance around them, you’ll be treated to music that hearkens back to Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, whose music became the soundtrack for a generation.
Thrill to the Broadway musical favourites ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, ‘You’re The One That I Want’, ‘Grease’, and ‘Sandy’.
Grease was first performed in 1971 in the original Kingston Mines nightclub in Chicago.
It went on to become a West End hit, a successful feature film in 1978 featuring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and enjoyed two popular Broadway revivals in 1994 and 2007.
Actress Quinn Cartwright, who is originally from Richmond, plays Sandy in the production at the Chemainus Theatre.
She said she is “beyond thrilled” to be chosen for the part.
“I was on tour with a children’s show touring B.C. and was in Prince Rupert when casting for the part was underway,” Cartwright said.
“I was upset that I couldn’t make the audition, but I was told that an audition tape would be accepted. A day later, I was told to send a tape of me singing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ and, shortly after that, I was very excited to get a call from my agent telling me I got the part.”
Cartwright said she feels she has a real connection with the Sandy character.
“I’ve been that girl when I was in high school,” she said.
“I was so confused and repressed by expectations, surrounded by people telling me what to do. It took me years to get beyond that, but Sandy figured it out in high school. She gets flack for changing for a man, but it’s actually the opposite. She gets rid of all the expectations and standards of womanhood and beauty and learns to be herself.”
Matt Alfano, a Toronto-based actor, plays Danny.
While never playing the role before, he did a North American tour with musical Saturday Night Fever where he played Tony, who was portrayed by John Travolta in the movie version. Travolta also made Danny famous on screen.
He said he enjoys playing the role of Danny in Grease because it portrays the straight-up, gritty side of the character before he has an epiphany moment in the second act of the musical.
“Like Danny, we all wear masks and face identity crises in our teenage years and are very insecure as to who we really are,” Alfano said.
“Danny appears to be more confident when he’s with his greaser friends than when he’s with Sandy, and that provides different colours to the palate of the story. The musical is a sincere approach to these issues that is more connected to our humanity.”
The stellar direction and choreography team from Chemainus Theatre Festival’s 2016 production of Footloose returns to lead the way for Grease this summer.
Director Barbara Tomasic and choreographer Julie Tomaino have set the bar high for both the cast and creative team.
Matinee and evening shows for the musical for all ages run June 8 to Sept 1. Call the Box Office at 1-800-565-7738 or check out chemainustheatre.ca for tickets and more information.