MONTICELLO – None of the Monticello High School actors were alive when ‘Grease’ was a hit 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
But they’re still big fans of it and are as excited to perform it March 3-6 as anything they’ve done in their theater careers.
Senior Sophie Happ, who along with junior Ellie Tanner is starring and choreographing the effort, said she lobbied for the musical two years ago.
“I’m super excited that it’s ‘Grease’ because my sophomore year, the whole sophomore class was begging (director Nicki) Graham to do ‘Grease’ our senior year, and we didn’t think we were going to do it,” said Happ, who is also a student director.
So when Graham announced it as a senior musical this year, there were cheers.
“It’s so much fun, and we know most of the songs, so we can work more on our characters and have fun with people instead of having to memorize all the songs,” Happ said.
Tanner – a former competitive dancer – is also thrilled with the choice, because the scene and the Hollywood classic are so joyful.
“This stuff makes me so happy, because we have all the sets and equipment to make it come to life,” she said. “It’s so amazing and believable.”
Graham said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of other high school staff, who helped make the sets and props. It’s a significant undertaking for the musical, which is set in the 1950s and includes several ensemble numbers.
“(Student) Rose Talbert designed the set and (industrial technology teacher) Brad Curry’s lessons took her designs and built a stunning set with the help of parent volunteers. Ryan Stripens Art Lessons will create the magic by doing the entire painting design. I expect ‘Greased Lightning’ to be a fun reveal for audiences as well,” Graham said.
She also gives high marks to her student directors (Happ and Emmie German), assistant director Amy Malone, stage managers Jessica Conatser and Kylie Cherry; and Kathy Brown, who worked with students on their vocals.
This is the stage version of the play, but very similar to the movie that people are more familiar with. One change is that the predominantly male “T-Birds” are actually the “Burger Place Boys” in the musical, which Graham chose to keep.
This is something that student-actors struggle with rehearsing.
“The kids HATE that I don’t let them say T-Birds,” Graham joked.
Other than that, expect mostly familiar songs, including “Beauty School Dropout” and the epic ending songs, which aren’t in the original Broadway musical roster, but MHS paid extra for the rights to the music. include in their version.
Part of the happy feeling Tanner gets is the large number of bands, made possible by a larger stage installed as part of a major auditorium upgrade two years ago.
“I love big group numbers where it’s the whole cast together,” she said. “The sound and the energy – we really feed each other when we’re there, especially at the end.”
Some cast members in the opening scene may have seen the film when it first aired.
“The opening number will have surprise cameos to entertain the audience! Graham teased.
Tickets are reserved and can be purchased online at https://mhsauditorium.ludus.com/index.php.
“I’m really excited to be able to play it and share it with the rest of the community,” Happ said.
What: “Grease”, the musical
When: 7 p.m. from March 3 to 5 and 2 p.m. on March 6
Where: Monticello High School Auditorium
Director — Nicki Graham
Assistant Director – Amy Malone
Student Directors — Sophie Happ and Emmie German
Choreographers — Ellie Tanner and Sophie Happ
Stage Manager – Jessica Conatser
Assistant Manager — Kylie Cherry
Cast: Ryan Olsen, Emily Steffes, Addi Barclay, Colton Mockbee, Megan LeJeune, Ian King, Grace Stapf, Ken Merriman, Olivia Ray, Ellie Tanner, Sophie Happ, Laci Husinga, Tatum Wichus, Chase Yohnka, Rylee Kurth, Slater Goebel, Lilly Bradley, Alison Wiltgen, Matt Malato, Emmie German, Reagan Pyatt, Evan Henrard, Dallas Glauner, Leah Killion, Mae Knittle, Kyndal Cafin, Maya Cremeens, Jackson Heck, Lilka Kay, Tyler Olsen, Lucas Madera
Stage Crew – Kalavine Ginger, Sylvia Miller, Olivia McCleary, Whitney Carter
Lights – Drew Schlabach, Charlie Dill
Sound — Leo Goebel, Kelton German, Jeremiah Wenke