At Prince George Secondary School, Grease is indeed the word.
Under the direction of teacher Steve Baker, students from three different classes at PGSS are putting on a production of Grease. The show – complete with the T-Birds, Pink Ladies and all the toe-tapping tunes from the 1978 hit movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – opened Wednesday and runs through Saturday at Vanier Hall.
Danny and Sandy are the central characters in Grease but the music stands right there with them in a major role. The cast members of the PGSS version handle the vocals themselves, backed by music from the soundtrack. Students also did the choreography, which makes everything come alive in front of a vibrant set that captures the spirit of 1950s Rydell High.
“One of the things that we’ve always tried to do is to change people’s perception of high school theatre,” said Baker, who leads senior acting and theatre production classes at PGSS. “We’ve gone the extra mile with everything, from the acting to the singing to the sets and the lighting and the sound and the full-on thing. I like when people come to a show and they maybe expected to see a high school production and they go away saying, ‘Wow, that was just an awesome show, regardless.’”
Students from Shannon Schinkel’s junior drama class are also heavily involved in the show.
Baker first did Grease at PGSS in 2007 and has been enjoying the experience all over again.
“It’s always different when you have a completely different cast, a completely different dynamic,” he said. “This time around I have two casts of Pink Ladies, which has made it really fun because they’re so completely different from one another.”
With four shows on the menu, each cast of Pink Ladies will appear twice. Tyra Dauvin plays Danny throughout, while Natasha Castro and Emmanuelle Jacob share the role of Sandy.
Dauvin, Castro and a handful of other cast members are also part of the PGSS School of Rock program. Dauvin, however, doesn’t normally use her vocal chords as her instrument.
“She’s a drummer and plays a bit of the guitar and the piano so singing has been kind of a new thing for her,” Baker said. “This has been a cool experience for her that way.”
Despite the late 1970s release of Grease, Baker said most of the students had seen the movie before they started work on this project. So, when rehearsals began, the cast and crew members were able to use familiarity to their advantage.
“A few of them knew every line,” Baker said with a chuckle.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the curtain goes up at 7 p.m. all four nights. Tickets ($15) will be available at the PGSS office during school hours and also at the door before the show.