Bear Creek’s drama department headed by theater director Cassie Champeau and choreographer Ms. Nicole put on the long-awaited performance of “Grease” — a performance that was worth the wait.
“Grease” itself has a long history. The story was originally told as a musical written by Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey, and John Farrar in 1971. However, the movie adaptation, which premiered in 1978 and starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, is more well-known today. More recently, “Grease: Live” was televised January 31 of this year and received positive reviews.
With all of these showcases of “Grease,” Bear Creek’s play was expected to stand out and Champeau succeeded in carrying out this goal. Sophomore Serra Raquel and Farrahlynn Bonocan in a split cast starred as Sandy Dumbrowski and junior Dalin Nelson starred as Danny Zuko. Raquel and Nelson performed their roles true to form with Raquel playing Sandy as the classic new girl who is clueless about the workings of the greasers and the pink ladies. Raquel was enthusiastic about her role throughout the musical as she performed the songs and dances passionately.
Nelson played Danny as a greaser trying to win over Sandy throughout the musical. Nelson was a little less tough than Danny Zuko in the movie but it made room for a more honest portrayal.
Champeau decided to use the dual casting that she employed in “Our Town,” so each performance did not include every cast member as their roles. Therefore, I didn’t see Bonocan’s performance. “Grease” also featured amazing performances from Erin Bacquiran as “Doody” Dudinelli and Aliyah Torres as Rizzo.
Bear Creek’s adaptation of “Grease” more closely followed the musical than the movie, though it did feature a combination of songs from both. Champeau bought the rights to the catchy songs “You’re the One That I Want” and “Grease (Is the Word)” from Samuel French Company that were featured in the movie but not the musical.
However, the musical included solos like “Mooning” sung by Roger (played by Giancarlo Lizarraga), “Those Magic Changes” sung by “Doody” Dudinelli (played by Erin Bacquiran), and “Freddy, My Love” sung by Marty (played by Kirsten Weber and Kylie McLean) that were either not in “Grease” the movie or only played in the background. “Those Magic Changes” especially brought a fun moment to the performance when it showed Doody, the shy greaser, learning how to play the guitar and imagining a future in which he is famous.
Some of my favorite songs were “We Go Together,” sung by the whole cast, “Those Magic Changes,” sung by Bacquiran as “Doody,” and “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” sung by Torres as Rizzo. Nelson’s rendition of “Alone at the Drive-In Movie” was one of the crowd favorites and the audience was filled with laughter. The scene at the drive-in theater was in general humorous, as the crowd watched Danny and Sandy talk while watching a movie that the audience got to see played out live.
All of the songs were unfortunately hindered by some microphone issues.
Between scenes, the Bear Creek jazz band played music from the previous scene to fill the time that the cast was moving props and changing — a nice touch that added a live musical feeling to the performances. However, the time between scenes seemed long even with the music to distract. The band was often louder than the singers, especially during the solos, so it was hard to hear the words to the songs at times. The solo singers had their own microphones during their songs but they were still quieter than the instruments of the jazz band, which was disappointing because for some songs the only audible parts were when the company was singing along with the soloist.
Champeau made sure that she made her audience feel included by addressing them as if they were alumni of Rydell High School. Later, during “Beauty School Dropout,” sung by Tawajanae’ Stevenson as “Teen Angel,” the audience is addressed and asked to help convince Frenchy (played by Adia Nelson and Chloé Romero) to go back to high school. Stevenson asked if the audience believed that Frenchy should return to school and it was their job to yell “Yes” as loud as they could.
The choreography during some of the “Grease” songs also helped improve the experience of watching the musical. “Born to Hand Jive,” performed by the whole cast, included the cast jumping around in synchronization. Karissa Hudson as Cha-Cha Digregorio danced sadly alone on the stage after being left on her own by the greasers and Pink Ladies.
“Greased Lightning,” performed by the greasers and the company, consisted of choreography revolved around a car, complete with cartwheels and backflips across the stage. The car was real with an exposed engine and flames painted on the sides which allowed for the song and dance to be truly centered on a car, as it is in other adaptations of “Grease.”
Most performances of “Grease” were sold out, and it’s easy to understand why. With the well choreographed dance sequences and catchy songs, it was a pleasure having such a beloved musical brought to the Bear Creek community.