STILLWATER, Okla. —
“Grease” is the word when CenterStage Theatre rocks back to the 1950s working-class youth subculture known as “greasers.” In the stage musical, Gavin Guthrie plays Danny Zuko, a ducktailed, hot-rodding T-Bird, who navigates the complexities of love with wholesome Sandy Dumbrowski portrayed by Stillwater High School senior Maddy Billings.
“It’s the perfect musical to end my senior year,” Billings said. “This theater group is my family.”
“The story is about making it through high school together - with friendships,” he said.
Both like singing the iconic “Summer Nights,” made popular by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in the Paramount Pictures film version of “Grease.”
The original 1971 stage musical was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. “Grease” tackles social issues such as teen pregnancy, gang violence, rebellion, class conflict and acceptance. Amy Guthrie is producing the Stillwater show with Amy McQuade and Bronwynne Queen directing, and choreography assistance from Katy Caudle.
The musical is set in 1959 at the fictional Rydell High School with the characters Danny and Sandy trying to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through songs such as “Beauty School Dropout,” “Hopelessly Devoted,” “Born to Hand Jive” and “You’re the One That I Want.” Many of the songs recall the music of Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Elvis Presley that became the soundtrack of a generation.
Two main groups also star in the performance. They include the hip swinging, gum chewing Pink Ladies — Rizzo, Frenchy, Marty and Jan, and the T-Birds — Kenickie, Doody, Sonny and Roger. Filling the roles of the Pink Ladies in pencil straight skirts and pedal pushers are Hannah Jo Fugett, Madison Weiser, Shea Retherford and Kennedy Cockriel. Cool cats in black leather jackets and slick hair, the T-birds are Bergen Ehrlich, Ben Yates, Bo Frohock and Bennett Frohock.
Scenes are interwoven with comments from radio host Vince Fontaine played by Chris Echols.
“I have a chance to express myself in a different way than I’m used to. . . listen in, while I give it a spin,” Echols said.
Other characters such as Eugene Florczyk and Patty Simcox provide contrast.
“Eugene is the class valedictorian and vice president of the straight shooters unlimited,” said Ansel Emerson who dresses the part in Bermuda shorts.
Mandie Botts plays the goody-goody Patty complete with spotless black and white saddle shoes. The crowds are different but Billings said the high energy “wop ba-ba lu wop bam boom” brings them all together.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: CenterStage Theatre presents “Grease”
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
and 3 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: OSU Seretean Center for the Performing Arts Vivia Locke Theatre
TICKETS: $10 Adults; $5 Students. Tickets available at the door.
MORE INFO: www.stillwaterchildrenstheatre.com