By Nickey Siegerman
Actors Creating Theatre presents the beloved classic “Grease,” the club’s fourth musical on Feb. 8 and 9 in Schaeffer Auditorium.
“Grease” tells the story of sweet and naïve Sandy Dumbrowski and greaser Danny Zuko. These two have a brief love affair over the summer, thinking they may never see each other again. Due to technicalities, however, Sandy is unable to be accepted into the Catholic school she had hoped for. Instead, she is set to attend Rydell High School where her summer fling also attends.
“Grease” takes place in the 50s and presents us with a cool, hotshot group of teens who all have crushes on one another and live regular teenage lives. Our leads find themselves in a complicated relationship. Sandy is very religious and reserved while Danny is more outgoing and not afraid to have a good time.
As ACT’s fourth musical on campus and with it being “Grease,” it takes some serious skill to put on. So, when club parliamentarian Zach Wynn, junior, and secretary Samuel Brown, sophomore, accepted the roles of director and assistant direction respectively, they were in for a treat.
During his time in ACT, Wynn was the assistant director of “The Importance of Being Earnest” last year, the choreographer for last year’s “Cabaret,” stage manager for “Almost, Maine” and acted in “Spring Awakening” and “Legally Blonde.” He described [being a director] as being something of a culture shock; he went from being part of the team or in the cast to basically being in charge of some of his best friends.
“The transition from all those different roles into directing wasn’t too hard of a switch. The hard part was switching to directing a musical. The thing a lot of people don’t really understand about a director that I understand because of my major, is you get to know all the roles more.” Wynn said. “With directors, they’re there to make sure everything runs smoothly; they can’t nitpick on every little detail, they designate other people to be in charge of those things for them.”
Brown, as a previous “Cabaret” assistant music director, was confident the cast of “Grease” was working hard going from a low commitment show to the musical transition.
Brown stated, “This being all of our first musical directing experience, I think we’re doing what we consider our best, and we’re pretty proud so far.”
As a first this year, a music director was hired. With the directors wanting more time dedicated to blocking and perfecting the characters, sophomore Emily Belouin accepted the role.
“It’s a lot of work because so much goes into making a musical,” Belouin said about her new role. “It’s constant trial and error and a learning curve for everyone involved since every cast and show is different. But it’s been a lot of fun and the cast is so hardworking and dedicated, and that helps egregiously.”
The cast members mentioned how well the group has been doing at incorporating jokes and making scenes more relatable. Sam Myers, playing Kenickie, finds the absolute best ad-libs that make the crew and cast laugh so hard they sometimes have to take a pause.
There is a great team working on this show, and it shows in the hard work the cast is putting in. Joe Graves as Doodie and Corrine Calderbank as Frenchie are the cutest pair, while Hannah Groff and Tyler Shull as Jan and Roger, respectively, are dynamic during their duet and the blossoming of their relationship.
The opening notes to Shull and Groff’s “Mooning” makes your heart melt, falling in love with his voice immediately. Even Mikala Hardie as the goofy, love-driven Marty and Cooper Smith as the lonely Sonny bring the best chemistry to the stage. The supporting leads, Meghan Artley as Pink Lady Rizzo and Myers as Kenickie show you how much they not only care but how often they fight as well.
Junior Abby Greco and senior Max Krug, longtime theatre nerds and actors, are tasked with the biggest parts of all: Sandy and Danny, respectively. Krug, having played Warner in “Legally Blonde” and East, Chad and Daniel in “Almost, Maine” the previous year finds it pretty incredible to play Danny in his last ACT musical.
“It’s been a ton of work, energy and stress but as we come to the final couple of weeks, getting to see it come together, seeing all the hard work cast and crew are putting in, hell yes is this all worth it,” said Krug.
In ACT, Greco was on stage crew for “Spring Awakening,” director for her freshman year cabaret, assistant director for “Legally Blonde,” part of the ensemble for her sophomore year cabaret and recently played the youngest Stockton sister, Amy, in “Of Good Stock” this past fall.
“It’s incredibly nerve-racking. I’ve wanted to be this role since I was five, so I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself because it means so much to me,” said Greco on playing Sandy in “Grease.” “I want to do it justice. It’s been really fun getting to experience it for the first time and put my own spin on such a classic role.”
You can see it in her eyes as she performs her solos, especially the reprise to “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee.” As Greco belts the last notes, you’re guaranteed stand with thunderous applause for her outstanding performance.
Each character is killing it, the ensemble adding in so much energy you feel as though you’ll burst. Hardie’s “Freddy My Love” is relatable and makes you swoon to her voice, Cali Heath’s Patty Simcox impression really makes you hate her and even Sarah Horvath’s interpretation of Miss Lynch, the hardcore English teacher, gets a hard laugh with each of her lines.
The show is Feb. 8 and 9 at 7 p.m., and tickets are $10 for students and $12 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased at the MSU Information Desk or online with KU Presents.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment