As the doors closed on Sleeping Beauty on November 20, the stage was struck barren and left empty, leaving some to wonder what will be next for the Adray Theatre. Every two years Henry Ford Community College puts on a musical, and during the winter semester of 2012 the theatre department will perform the hit musical Grease.
When asked why this particular show was chosen, Judith Fletcher, the talented individual who will be directing next semester’s spectacle, said, “I wanted to select a show that would be energetic and fun for everyone. Firstly, though, I had to address the question, ‘what would people want to see?’ and then I thought that Grease would have been the best choice because it is familiar. Everyone knows the basis of Grease, whether it may be from the movie or seeing it on Broadway.”
Before Disney’s High School Musical, two people came up with an idea that would soon electrify the musical world. Jim Jacobs and his longtime friend Warren Casey took it upon themselves to write a musical with a story that would be, in a manner of speaking, a new kind of classic. With that in mind they set out to write a musical that made record-breaking sales in the experimental theatre in Chicago in 1971. After a year of success, Broadway opened its doors to their show in 1972 at the Broadhurst Theatre.
However, as the popularity of the show grew, so did the overwhelming number of theatre groups that wanted to perform this show. In order to satisfy the needs of the young audiences and youth actors, Jim Jacobs wrote a school edition which was reworked so the swearing, alcohol/drug and cigarette references would not be in the script. A few songs also were reworked and some were cut due to the adult themes, such as Rizzo’s solo “There are Worse Things I Can Do.”
Fletcher said, “The version we are doing will be the school edition. Even still, there will be a lot of recognizable songs, such as the famous ‘Grease Lighting,’ which is Kenickie’s big song. A lot of people will come to these auditions thinking they know everything about Grease when really it’s not the same show they’d expect. It’s a bit different in only a few songs, lyrical changes, and some of the songs that were cut.”
Fletcher has high hopes for the auditions and requests that everyone who wants to audition and be a part of this award-winning show—and the history tied to it—to look up the script. She asks that the actors know the show, look up the lyrics and get familiar with the role for which they want to audition. Fletcher feels that preparation is key for a show like this, but hopes that people will not feel intimidated because it is a musical.
Whereas most musicals require strong singers or talented vocalists, according to Fletcher, Grease is not as vocally-complex as people often portray it to be and, because of the play’s late 50s rock ‘n’ roll style music, its musical numbers are relatively simple. For those, however, who feel that singing, acting and dancing may not be their goal in theatre, the theatre department is always looking for technical and work study students to aid in set-building and to run crews.
Fletcher also strongly recommends that those who plan to audition should register for the class in advance, and asks that people not audition if they do not plan to enroll. The audition dates are Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., though actors need not attend both nights.
Rehearsals for Grease will begin on January 10, 2012, and opening night is April 13.
For more information about the auditions for Grease, e-mail Judith Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Gerry Dzuiblinski at (313) 845-9817.