By MIKE CHAIKEN
The musical “Grease” may take place in the 1950s when leather jackets and poodle skirts ruled, but the teenage life in 2016 isn’t much different, according to cast members of the Bristol Central High School Footlights production of the Broadway musical.
The musical, which was later turned into a successful movie with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John and was turned into a live extravaganza on network TV recent, tells the story of Danny and Sandy. Due to their particular cliques, their romance becomes a Romeo and Juliet tale of forbidden love.
The show opens Friday night at BCHS.
Senior Katerina Levasseur, who plays “Sandy” sees similarities between life at the fictional Rydell High and BCHS. “As a teen in 2016, my life is similar to that of ‘Grease’ due to the fact that stereotypes in high school never seem to fade away. Back then, they had the squares and the jocks. The ‘T-Birds’ and the ‘Pink Ladies.’ Even today, we have separate groups and cliques just like in the ‘50s.”
“The only difference is that over the years, our fashion has gotten worse,” said Katrina.
Junior Molly Watstein takes on the tough girl role of Rizzo. She said, “”As a teen in 2016, surprisingly enough, I feel like my life is pretty similar to the characters in ‘Grease.’ ‘Grease’ is all about teens trying to be individuals and expressing themselves, and that really hasn’t changed. It’s just as important now for me to be able to be myself as it was then.”
Junior Thalia Palacios plays the hairdress-to-be “Frenchy.” She said, “‘Grease’ is centered around stereotypes and rebelling against them, much like high school students today rowing against the stream.”
“The good thing about ‘Grease’ is that it explores different kind of personalities and friendships that form between them,” said Thalia. “Songs for specific characters explore each character below the surface. Goofy dance movies and crazy falsettos show the coming of age aspect of the story, the awkward stages of puberty shining through between pick-up lines and crude jokes.”
Molly said she said she likes the show because “Everyone knows ‘Grease,’ and that’s what makes the show so great. It’s awesome to be able to get up on stage and make such classic characters our own. I think the reason people love ‘Grease’ so much is because we all secretly want to be as cool as Danny or Rizzo, and I’m really lucky to be able to do that every day.”
Katrina said, “‘Grease’” the musical is actually much different from Grease the movie, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much.”
As for what they like about their particular character, Thalia said, “Frenchy is a bit of an air-head, but she’s sweet. She’s not book-smart, but she can definitely tell when someone’s upset and comfort them. She’s often a character that is overlooked or dismissed as too stupid but there’s more depth to her than people think.”
“I like Sandy mostly for her imperfections,” said Katrina. “She’s not a perfect Hollywood character. Throughout the show/movie we see her struggle with her identity and who her real friends are. This is relatable to not only myself, but many young people in the audience.”
Molly said, “Rizzo has always been my favorite character in ‘Grease’ because I aspire to be as confident and strong-willed as she is. She’s never shaken when things get tough. Especially as a junior starting my college application process, Rizzo has shown me that I can do anything I set my mind to – and no one can tell me otherwise.”
As for why audiences will be drawn to the Footlights’ production, Molly said, “I think Bristol Central’s ‘Grease’ will help audiences see a new side of their favorite characters – one they may not have noticed in the film version. On stage, we’re trying to make our roles as realistic as possible. When audiences see that the characters in ‘Grease’ are more than just ridiculous teens, they’ll find it even more relatable and timeless than before.
Thalia said, BCHS FootLights’ version of “Grease” “doesn’t single any one character out. Each one has depth, a personality and it’s never boring. You won’t want to miss this show.”
“The audience will love Bristol Central’s production of ‘Grease’ because the singing and dancing are phenomenal,” said Katrina “The scenes are enjoyable for all ages. You’ll feel as though you took a trip back to the 1950s.”
Bristol Central High School Footlights performs “Grease” Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, April 3 at 2 p.m. at Bristol Central High School, Wolcott Street, Bristol.
Tickets are $10 at the door for students and staff, and children and seniors. General admission is $12.
For more information, email BCHSFootlights@ gmail.com
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN