"Grease is the word!"
Scarsdale High School students, parents and teachers gathered at the high school auditorium Friday night for the opening performance of the senior class production of Grease.
As the crowd waited patiently for the performance to begin, discussions in the audience touched on everything from graduation, to summer plans and first-year experiences in college. The production was not only a community event, but also a school reunion as audience members reached over seats to embrace each other. Old friends screamed in jubilation and hugged in the aisles.
And apparently, I was sitting in the drama club section. Former members, now alumni, recalled their own experiences in the senior class theater productions. The alumni explained how they were not there to critique, but to support. They could relate to the simultaneous pressure and excitement that comes with putting on a play.
The camaraderie and school spirit that filled the auditorium appropriate for the Grease production.
It was Rydell High School meets Scarsdale High School. I sat in anticipation.
Although I never had the chance to see Jim Jacobs' and Warren Casey's original theater production of Grease (1971), I've watched the movie version more than a few times. I was curious to see how closely the play would match the popular 1978 film.
My questions ceased when the lights dimmed and two girls, wearing similar summer dresses, walked onto front center stage. They introduced themselves as the production's directors -- Lucie Fink and Margaret Gandolfo, both seniors and members of the drama club.
Fink served as senior class vice president and plans to attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall. As for Gandolfo, this was her second time co-directing a theater production. Almost, Maine, which showcased back in January, was her first.
"Being so actively committed for four straight years in the drama club has given us the skills to direct this," Gandolfo told the audience.
Fink and Gandolfo left the stage and sat front row in the audience. Murmurs and applause died down when a number of the cast members walked out. They started the play by singing "Grease (is the Word)."
The curtains opened to a simple and smartly designed set, with a ceiling-to-floor backdrop of a school football field, a set of wooden bleachers, and a wooden picnic table complete with benches. The scene was set for one of my favorite songs from Grease -- "Summer Nights."
The song gave a taste of Julianna Haubner (Sandy Dumbrowski) and Thomas Evans (Danny Zuko), two students with charming voices.
The rest of the cast, especially Amanda Somekh (Betty Rizzo), David Hyman (Doody), Jeff Kosofsky (Kenickie), and Peter Kentros (Teen Angel), performed just as beautifully.
As for my previously-mentioned curiosity about how closely the play and movie would match: While the plot and characters were the same, the scene sequences and song choices were not.
One of the main differences was with the finale performance once Sandy had transformed for Danny. Instead of singing the song usually associated with Grease, "You're the One That I Want," Haubner and Evans sang "All Choked Up."
The costumes included the infamous T-Bird and Pink Ladies' jackets and flare.
With believable actors and a diligent crew, the play brought the spirit of Rydell High to Scarsdale High.