By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
Get ready for an extremely high energy performance with lots of singing and dancing as Lincoln High School prepares to present the popular musical “Grease” early next month.
Eileen Metheney is the LHS theater teacher, and she says that approximately 70 students will be participating in this year’s feature presentation.
“It is typical that we select our plays well in advance – usually at the end of the preceding school year. Grease requires a lot of depth talent-wise and there is also a need for a lot of male roles. We knew this was the year to offer this musical because we would have plenty of guys to fill those parts,” she stated. “We began rehearsals in early September, at first just meeting a couple of days after school, but more recently we’ve been rehearsing Monday through Thursday. The students have been very committed and we’re getting excited for showtime!”
Grease was first performed in a Chicago nightclub before it landed on the Broadway stage. When it closed in 1980, it had enjoyed a 3,388-performance run and was the longest run in Broadway history before it was surpassed by A Chorus Line. However, it still remains Broadway’s 15th longest-running show. It was adapted in 1978 as a feature film, which was slightly altered from the play, and in 2016 was a live TV musical.
Mrs. Metheney noted that usually the school plays go to a lot of expense renting elaborate costumes. However, this year, because 50’s apparel is very easy to find, students did their own costuming and that expense was spared.
Lincoln High Band Director Fred Channell has been in charge of the students working on the technical crew. They have done all set designs and construction. Mrs. Metheney said that a huge set was not needed, but it is a “cool” one!
“Some of the sets for plays our school has done in the past had to be much more elaborate with moving parts, etc. This set is a little more simplistic, giving the characters on stage more focus. However, the set this year will be wonderful because Mr. Channell is a real genius when it comes to doing things like this!” she added.
While Grease was first reviewed as a rather “raw” and “vulgar” show, subsequent productions were sanitized somewhat and tamed down. Teenage pregnancy and gang violence were themes touched on in its earlier days.
“We have further cleaned it up a little; there is no swearing or anything, but we have added a disclaimer at the bottom of all of our posters that parental discretion is suggested for children under the age of 12,” Mrs. Metheney continued. “It focuses on adolescence as it was in the 50’s with a little rebellion and class consciousness. But mostly it is just an entertaining show with LOTS of music and dancing and humor! We have tried to make it as family-friendly as possible.”
Another subtle change in this year’s production is the lack of canned music, Mrs. Metheney noted. “With the exception of the opening number in the play, there is no canned music; we are using a live band this year, with some teachers and students sharing their talents! We will have a half dozen people in the band, and Mr. Channell has built a bandstand so the musicians will be visible but not prominent on the stage.”
Choir Director Mrs. Julie Channell is assisting with the music direction of the play. Lincoln High School senior Olivia O’Donnell is in charge of choreography for the play.
Sandy Dumbrowski is the female lead, played by Karley Lemley; and the male lead of Danny Zuko is played by Timothy Scheuvront. Other roles include Olivia Gianettino as Betty Rizzo, Jodi Ice as Frenchy, Giana Loretta as Marty, Kaylyn Broadwater as Jan, Jonathan Looman as Kenickie, Jacob McIntire as Doody, Dalton Gould as Sonny, Zach Zahn as Roger, and Olivia O’Donnell as Patty.
“There are many lead parts and no unimportant roles in this play!” Mrs. Metheney stated. “We’re loaded with talent, and there is a LOT of music and dancing. Most musicals have one big, memorable song and dance number; this production has four of those! Believe me, after rehearsals, the students are worn out! This is probably the most energetic show we have ever done. Everyone has worked so very hard and we are certain the audience will find it very entertaining.”
Look for some gum-chewing teenage characters in bobby sox and cardigan sweaters, guys with greased back hair, wearing leather jackets and sunglasses – a real throwback to the 50’s. And of course lots of old rock and roll music!
Grease will be presented in the Lincoln High School auditorium on Dec. 8th & 9th at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. Prior to these two evening presentations for the public, the play will also be performed for both high school and middle school students on Dec. 6th and 7th; student body charges for these two shows are $5.
Three months of rehearsals are coming to an end and it will soon be time to dim the lights and raise the stage curtain. Make plans now to attend and show your support for the hard work the students have put forth.