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‘Grease’ is summer fun

By Alex Reynolds
For the Salisbury Post
ěGreaseî has come to Salisbury. The iconic show that spawned a hit movie and spoke to a generation about what it means to survive high school is alive here in our town.
I had the pleasure of going to see a show that most directors wonít touch with a 10-foot pole, entirely because of the expectations attached. People might think that picking a great show automatically produces better theatre, but that is not always the case. Iconic shows often are the hardest to resurrect because of the memories already associated with the product. It is that baggage that slows down many productions. PPT Youth, however, do not seem bound by that same convention.
When you enter the space, you see a black and white set that reeks of simplicity. High school class pictures frame the stage; otherwise it is fairly bare ó not what one would expect when entering a show known for its color and pizazz.
Funny cast
But as soon as the actors enter the space, it is clear that director Gwen Matthewsí goal was not how big and showy it could be but how much we could identify with its stereotypical cast of characters and, most importantly, how much fun we could have with them.
That is the word that best describes the show: fun. After about 10 minutes you realize this isnít a ěGreaseî youíve seen before; it is a new entity, and you get lost in a very funny cast all while tapping your toes to the showís great music.
The talent of the show is made up of middle and high school students from around the county. It is really nice seeing kids from all the schools come together to make such a cohesive ensemble.
The leads were very good and nailed some of the bigger numbers, including ěSummer Nightsî for Danny and Sandy (Ryan Miles and Micala Hall).
The smaller characters in the ensemble are the ones who really sold the high school life for me. Katie Cofer as dorky, constantly-eating Pink Lady Jan was really funny alongside her newfound love Roger (Jacob Hammill), who kept my attention with his ability to sing.
Frenchie (McClain Miles) got to do a fair bit of character acting. Every time she spoke I stifled my chuckle at her quirky accent. Her most somber moment in Act Two led to the best number in the show: ěBeauty School Dropout.î Led by two men (James and John Woodson óyes, they are twins) ó was worth the price of admission in itself. It was pure joy brought to the stage. An inventive revival of the song gave the show real life in the second half.
A different time
The focus of the show seemed to be on the dancing and singing, which was very entertaining. Some of the comedy of the piece, however, is lost on a contemporary audience. Most people these days are not shocked when a high schooler might be pregnant or a gang fight is about to erupt, and thus some of those moments are lost in translation to this generation. As soon as the very talented orchestra of students back stage (directed by Jeff Street) struck up the next number, all was forgiven.
Itís summer. Whether youíve never seen ěGreaseî or you want to see it recreated in a new way, I highly recommend getting out of the house and seeing the talent of our youth here in Rowan County. Iíve only been a resident for four years, but it didnít take me that long to realize that theatre is alive, and our youth are its breath of fresh air. Go out and support these young people and their art.
Now to answer the most important question anyone asks about the production … yes, the car in ěGreased Lightingî is awesome!

ěGreaseî will be presented at The Norvell, 135. E. Fisher St., tonight, Saturday and July 20-23 at 7:30 p.m., with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on July 17 and 24. For ticket information, call 704-633-5471.
Alex Reynolds teaches drama at Jesse Carson High School.

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