LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Passaic Valley High School's Drama Club will present the spring musical production of "Grease" this month, with music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.
Considered to be the most popular musical in American culture by many, the story centers on working-class teenagers during their senior year at Rydell High School as they experience peer pressure and love, while exhibiting their core values.
The theater production originally opened in Chicago in 1971 and since has been presented in theaters worldwide with countless revivals. The hit 1978 movie starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, is still one of the most beloved movies, even for younger generations.
The Passaic Valley production is directed by Jennifer Shue. Maggie Letsche is assistant director. Musical directors are Ray Frasche and Mike Deluccia, with choreography by Jenny LeProtto.
"I am very excited to be directing 'Grease' this year," said Jennifer Shue, director. "This show holds a special place in my heart because I was in it when I was in high school and we also did it in 2002 here at Passaic Valley. Some of those students in the 2002 production are good friends of mine to this day. Since it's 15 years that the last 'Grease' production was held, I've invited that cast to come to the show and be recognized."
Shue added that she decided to do the show when production wrapped for "Legally Blonde" last year.
"When we were cleaning up after 'Legally Blonde' last year, I asked the students what shows they were interested in doing for next year," she explained. "They shouted out 'Grease!' I knew I had to do it. We have a lot of seniors and this is a great way to highlight each one of them. There are many roles in this show and I've added an ensemble which is also very enthusiastic about the show.
The show's main cast includes Michael Smith as Danny Zuko, Brianna Cielo as Sandy Dumbrowski, Annie Challice as Betty Rizzo, Alex Sanchez as Kenickie, Francesca Carr as Frenchy, Alex Swetlitschnyj as Doody, Alyssa Ortiz as Marty, Miguel Maldonado as Sonny Latierri, Gabi Volonnino as Jan, Marc Garcia as Roger, Eleni Rotsides as Patty Simcox, Bobby Rada as Eugene Florczyk, Gabby Rose as Miss Lynch, Zak Kaykay as Vince Fontaine, Andre Papasavas as Johnny Casino, Juliana Arrabito as Cha-Cha Digregorio and Alex Papasavas as Teen Angel.
The rest of the ensemble cast includes Brooke Barrigan, Thien Dinh-Do, Chanelle Garcia (Teen Angel), Mark Huggins, Franco Iacovo,Lara Mazza-Hilway, Lexi Mojica, Nick Otero-Lopez, Alex Papasavas, Mia Peziosi (Teen Angel), and Javier Tovar.
Brianna Cielo, who plays Sandy, said that the musical was perfect for her to take part in during her senior year.
"The show is literally about seniors who are graduating and are having fun during their last year of high school," she said.
Michael Smith, also a senior, who plays Danny, said he is enjoying the show.
"I'm very excited," he explained. "I really love the show because it's a classic. As a senior this year I can relate to the character even though it's a different time period."
He added that the show strikes an emotional chord at times.
"It's especially emotional during songs like 'We go together' and really shows what good friends are about as they'll be together through it all."
Bobby Rada, also a senior, who plays Eugene, echoed the sentiment.
"I think what makes it different and exciting is that it's a PV production," he noted. "You definitely have a connection between a group of friends on and off the stage."
Patty Simcox is played by Eleni Rotsides, also in her senior year.
"I think it's such a classic musical show and anyone can agree with that. It's so much fun and the audience will be dancing and singing along in their seats."
The additional production team includes stage managers Juliana Arrabito and Victoria Ayoub, along with assistant stage managers Seda Akman and Eden O'Connor. Prop master is Neil Grabowski.
"This year we added a matinee for Saturday May 13 at 2 p.m.," added Shue. "Our superintendent, Dr. JoAnn Cardillo, suggested this as a way to get more young people and senior citizens to be able to come to show."
Shue added that the production team is very excited to have Jenny LeProtto come on as choreographer for the spring musical.
"Jenny was hired last summer to choreograph PVST 'Footloose' and the kids are loving working with her," she noted.
"Grease" will be presented on Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at the high school's Schneider Auditorium, located at 100 East Main Stt. A special matinee performance will be held on Saturday, May 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door one hour before show time or online at www.pvtheater.com. For more information, contact Jennifer Shue at 973-890-2522.