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High school rendition of 'Grease' impresses audience

I purchased tickets to Clovis North High School’s Grease with high expectations and a biased view towards the film due to it being one of my favorite movies. Despite my assumptions, I anticipated that a high school would have a hard time taking on a difficult musical. However, my attitude changed once everyone was seated and the music started playing.

Running from Nov. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m., this musical chronicles the senior year of high school seniors Danny Zuko (Jacob Watkins) and Sandy Dumbowski (Katie Tjerrild) as they deal with issues of love and friendship. Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease premiered to a sold-out audience in the Mercedes Edwards Theatre of Clark Intermediate School, Nov. 10.

The show is set on the first day of school in the year 1959. Danny informs his friends about a fling he had with a girl he thought he would never see again. At the same time, new student Sandy informs her friends about a sweet summertime romance she had with a boy and how she had to part from him.

When the two social groups merge, Danny and Sandy are surprisingly reunited prior to their separation over summer break. Conflict arises when Danny brushes her off so he doesn’t embarrass himself in front of his friends.

The rest of the play revolves around each character’s conflicts and how they have to cope with consequences of their actions. Danny and Sandy, along with their friends, go through trials of emotional agony during the school year. The characters are faced with adult decisions during the play and have to make potentially life-changing decisions due to their circumstances.

The cast deals with touchy subjects such as heartbreak and teen pregnancy. Despite the seemingly dreary tone of those themes, the characters still get to experience the fun of being a high school senior. They enjoy momentous events such as going to prom, meeting new friends, and forming meaningful relationships with each other.

The cast possessed immense talent; the singing and dancing was incredible. The musical included more songs than the more widely known film adaptation of Grease, and the story line flowed smoothly.

The stage was relatively large, and had a student band playing all the music on stage. The costumes definitely matched the times. Danny and his gang wore cuffed jeans and white T-shirts with a black leather jacket. Sandy and most of the other girls wore long skirts and blouses with sweaters. The environment that was created with all of these assets seemed to bring the audience back in time.

My negative criticism of the program lies with the characters’ language and raunchy behavior. There were a few alcoholic references, as well as swearing. There were also instances when the characters were acting inappropriately with each other through conversation and action. The play had quite a few sexual references, and echoed the film quite well in that area.

Besides the negatives, the play was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Each actor was suitable for the part, and set a comedic atmosphere that had everyone laughing.

The acting was impressive, and brought the script to life. One character who particularly stood out to me was Rizzo (Erika Steele). Rizzo possessed the same quirky personality as was presented in the film, and she sang amazingly.

I loved the story and also enjoyed how the problems the teens faced were relatable to the audience, which definitely made this a must-see.

Overall, the cast had great singing abilities. I, however, think that the supporting actors and actresses had better voices than the leads. Sandy seemed to be losing her voice on stage, and at times it was hard to understand her vocals.

I would love to hear another song from the cast. I still have the songs, especially “You’re the One that I Want.” I liked how the song didn’t have specific characters singing, but had the whole ensemble taking part in the song. The voices harmonized perfectly, and the music being played live on stage added onto the song’s feel immensely.

Considering the mild inappropriate aspects, Grease is best for ages thirteen and up due to some of the contents expressed and implied on stage. The theater is rather large, but it is better to arrive at least thirty minutes before the show starts. Clark has very few parking spaces, so I had to park a few blocks away, which was quite a bit of walking out in the cold November weather.

If you have the chance to see this play, I recommend you take it. You will surely not regret spending an evening watching this production. Grease was definitely a success, and I am lucky to have gone.

Admission is $10 for students and $12 for adults. This production will be running Nov. 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit Clovis Unified’s website.

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