The TJ Theatre department has worked hard to bring Grease to the Spartan stage.
The classic musical Grease depicts the lives of two high school seniors: bad boy Danny Zuko, played by junior Milan Bartelt and good girl Sandy Dumbrowski, played by junior Maddi Abram. This 1950’s love story has come to Thomas Jefferson High School and will run from February 15 to 17 at 7:00 p.m.. Tickets will be $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, and seniors can buy one ticket and get another free for Student Night on February 16.
Grease is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, named after the working-class in the 1950’s, known as “greasers.” The original musical is based in 1959 Rydell High School and follows several seniors in a coming-of-age story. The main characters are Danny Zuko, Sandy Dumbrowski, the Pink Ladies (Frenchy, Rizzo, Marty, and Jan), and the T-Birds (Kenickie, Sonny, Doody, and Putzie). Audience members can expect something different from the well known film of Grease, as it is more like the original production. Theatre director Tambyr Reed illustrated, “It’s super fun and energetic and people really enjoy humming along to the classic songs.” The auditions for Grease were a three day process in August for any Spartans who wanted to participate. Students who auditioned needed to have a monologue, song, and dance prepared. To audition for tech, students went through an interview, and for hair and makeup they had to bring in a model and show their ability to create stage makeup.
The actors are passionate about performing a classic musical and are excited for opening night. Abram and Bartelt are honored to be playing the main characters Sandy and Danny. Abram explained, “I am beyond thrilled to be a part of such a hardworking cast. I’ve always been a huge fan of Grease ever since I was a little girl, so I’m super excited to have landed a leading role.”
The cast has worked very hard. “I hope on opening night, we can convey to the audience the hard work and dedication put into bringing this timeless classic to TJ,” Bartelt explained. Another popular female character from Grease, Rizzo, is played by sophomore Stephane Sizov. She is excited to hear the audience’s reactions to the performance, and hopes to hear the audience laugh and gasp throughout the show. “The community is like a family. We all know each other and even if you are new you end up becoming an honorary member of the family,” said Sizov. The cast attends rehearsals after school, practices the choreography and different songs, and spends time memorizing their lines at home. Each member of the cast does their part to bring life to the stage and pull the audience in.
Apart from the actors, students involved in the production of the play include the Tech team and the Hair/Makeup team. These students play an essential role in creating a show like Grease. Without the Tech team, the production would not be possible, while the Hair/Makeup team pulls everything together to create a masterpiece. The head of the Tech team, junior Sam Chappell, supervises the building and does the microphone work and audio preparation for the productions. He explained how he directs the other tech team workers to finish the set well and efficiently, “We set out a list of specific projects that need to be done and go down the list, knocking out project after project until our set is complete.” Then, they will bring in the actors and practice all of the scene changes so that every transition is smooth and well organized. “It’s an honor to lead the Tech team because of how hard they work and how much effort they put into the set to make it what it is,” expressed Chappell.
In the production of a musical, the hair and makeup has to be transformational in order to make characters more realistic and pull the audience into the lives of the characters. Gina Shearer, head of the Hair/Makeup team, began planning and researching the best and most historically correct styles of hair and makeup early in the school year. Shearer looks at everything from classes, socioeconomic status, to the timeline and the backgrounds of the characters. Auditions to be part of the team took three days. First, the potential artists watched a demonstration and listened to a lecture on what they do on the team. Shearer explained the era in which the show takes place, and a demo was done by senior team members of what the artists need to produce their auditions. The following day, the artists had a model and demonstrated their level of knowledge on the application of makeup and the creation of a character. On the last day of auditions, artists could expect an interview on the topic of whether they understand theater compared to fashion. Artists must be prepared to make quick changes efficiently in hair and makeup between scene changes. Shearer is very confident in her artists: “In the dance scene, the costumes, hair, wigs, and makeup all has to change. Can my girls pull it off? Of course they can!”
TJ is honored to have such a wonderful director, cast, and team to be putting together a classic show like Grease. Each member works as a team to put together an impressive performance that will really draw in the audience. “Working with students is always my favorite part of any show,” said Reed. Students and families can watch the show come to life beginning February 15.