Courtesy of Shelli Craig
Wyatt Roby as Danny and Maddie Conti as Sandy in Community Theatre of Greensboro’s “Grease”.
By Bruce Buchanan, Special to Go Triad
Some plays need no introduction. And “Grease,” which opens March 17 at Community Theatre of Greensboro, is one such show.
Danny and Sandy. The Pink Ladies. Greased Lightnin’. “Grease” introduced these cultural touchstones into the American mainstream. And then there’s the music, “Grease” features some of the most popular, instantly recognizable musical numbers in theater: “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” “Born to Hand Jive” and “Beauty School Dropout,” just to name a few.
The musical is set in a nostalgic late 1950s high school and tells the story of a group of students as they explore young love, teen rebellion, fast cars and rock ‘n’ roll music. The play was one of the longest running shows in Broadway history, and has been revived many times. Of course, many people fell in love with the story through the 1978 film of the same name, starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Just last year, the Fox network staged a live broadcast production of the musical, introducing “Grease” to yet another generation.
“Grease” marks the CTG directorial debut of Justin Bulla. Bulla teaches theater at Rockingham County High School and said he is happy to get this opportunity.
“I’ve wanted to be a part of the next good thing (at CTG),” he said. In fact, Bulla said he came close to staging “Grease” with his students this year, before he even knew about the CTG production.
Mitchel Sommers, CTG’s executive director, said nurturing talent, both on the stage and behind the scenes, is part of CTG’s mission.
“For us, it’s easy to keep asking back the same wonderful people over and over,” he said. “But we have three new directors this season, and that’s healthy.”
Bulla said fans of the movie will find a lot they know — but the stage production adds in elements that may come as a surprise.
“There are a lot of songs that aren’t as familiar, but they’re just as strong,” he said.
Bulla said preparations have gone smoothly — except for one factor completely out of anyone’s hands.
“Never can I remember a season that’s been so plagued with flu!” he said, noting that cast members have battled illness this winter. But despite aches and fevers, he said the show will be ready to go March 17.
“We have a great cast,” Bulla said, noting that a number of local students are taking part in the show. “They’re energetic, and they all can sing really well.”
Bulla and Sommers said they believe that enthusiasm will come across to audiences.
“People will really feel a part of the music,” Sommers said. “Dancing in the aisles is permitted!”