Summer loving starts this June at DHT’s ‘Grease’
Jun 04, 2019 02:30PM
● By Katherine Weinstein
The cast of “Grease” strikes a pose in the Draper Historic Theatre production. (Photo courtesy Bailey Loveless/Draper Historic Theatre)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
As director Wil Greer recalls, his girlfriend Heather Haycock first encouraged him to get involved in a show at Draper Historic Theatre about five years ago. "I told Heather I would do one show," he said. Fast forward to spring 2019 and Greer has worked on several productions at DHT both on-stage and off. He just got engaged to Haycock and is directing the musical "Grease" this June, a dream project.
"Grease," the classic musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, kicks off the summer season at Draper Historic Theatre and will be presented June 7 through 29 at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on June 22.
The show follows the lives of 10 teenagers at the fictitious Rydell High School in 1959 as they deal with social cliques, peer pressure and romantic entanglements during senior year. The stage show is a bit different from the well-known 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. “All of everyone’s favorite songs from the film are in it — but there are even more songs!” said Haycock, who doubles in the role of Sandy and show choreographer.
While the movie focused more on the romance between "greaser" Danny Zuco and "good girl" Sandy Dumbrowski, the stage version tells the stories of multiple characters. "There is a storyline for each character," said Haycock. "The pink ladies and the greasers are all finding themselves, which makes the show relatable to a lot of people. Sandy is going on a journey of discovering who she is. We want to emphasize the message of empowerment and expression."
In the Draper Historic Theatre production, Eugene, the class nerd who gets picked on, is more than a one-note character. He expresses his inner flamboyant side in the show's song and dance dream sequences. Haycock views the character's story as a message of empowerment for LGBTQ youth.
Jonathon Jones, who plays Eugene, said, "He is learning who he is, trying to connect the dots and learning that he's much more than just a nerd." Jones said he has always wanted to play Eugene. "It's been a blast!"
Greer was amazed to find that many of the actors auditioning for the show came in asking if they could play specific roles. As director he is giving the cast a lot of creative freedom to put their own personal spin on their characters. "I don't want to take away from anything the actors want to give," he said.
Warren Tharp is adding a dash of Elvis' swagger to his interpretation of Danny. "He's kind of a player," said Tharp of the character. "He has a cool edge, very opposite of me. It's fun to branch out." Danny is a dream role for Tharp, who is new to Draper Historic Theatre. "Most of my roles have been supporting," he said. "I'm very lucky to be playing the lead."
Staging "Grease" represents special creative challenges behind the scenes. Haycock is inventing new choreography for 13 dance numbers. Greer is grappling with how to make the car "Greased Lightning" fit within the relatively small confines of the stage. Because the lead roles are double-cast, costume designer Mae Hinton-Godfrey is creating costumes that have to fit two different actors.
Hinton-Godfrey has purchased some vintage costume pieces and is sewing others from authentic dress patterns from the late 1950s. She explained that she wanted to give the costumes a bit of a stylized, rockabilly look instead of adhering closely to the show’s time period. “It was really because of this theater that this dream of mine (to be a costume designer) became a possibility,” said Hinton-Godfrey.
Staging and performing in “Grease” has been a dream come true for many involved with this production, and the cast and crew are eager to share it with the community. “We want to give people that fun of going to the theater,” said Tharp. “It’s nice to escape for a little while.”
“Grease,” directed by Wil Greer, will be presented at Draper Historic Theatre on June 7, 8, 10, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22, 24, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on June 22. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper. The ticket hotline is 801-572-4144 during performance weeks. Tickets may also be purchased via the theater website at http://drapertheatre.org