“Usually, I have to sell the kids on a show,” said Briarcliff High School’s theater director Ian Driver. “Not this year.”
This year, it’s “Grease!” a musical throwback to Rydell High and “Greased Lightning” and Danny and Sandy and Rizzo and Kenickie.
This year, it’s the hand-jive and a show that gives plenty of work to the ensemble, teen-agers playing teen-agers.
That is the appeal, said Erica James.
<object id=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0″><param name=”movie” value=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /><param name=”flashVars” value=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=70652790001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” /><param name=”base” value=”http://admin.brightcove.com” /><param name=”seamlesstabbing” value=”false” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”swLiveConnect” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><embed src=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=70652790001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” base=”http://admin.brightcove.com” name=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”></embed></object>“It’s about high school and we’re all in high school. It’s easy to relate to,” she said.
Rebecca Millner says Briarcliff isn’t too far from Rydell.
“The gossip, the energy, just the whole high school flow and the feeling of it is completely relatable,” she said. “I think it would be like that no matter what time period you were in.”
Debbie Spahr, who directs shows at Kennedy and choreographed “Peter Pan” at Rye Neck, choreographed the high-energy dances in “Grease!” The set is by Jim Britt, who also designed Pleasantville’s “Once Upon a Mattress” castle.
There are kids on platforms, kids in the pit and kids in the aisles.
Nico Chavez-Oramis, in his first musical, landed the role of Danny Zuko (played by John Travolta in the film adaptation).
“My mom used to egg me on to do shows, but to be honest with you I wasn’t that in to the shows the school did,” he said. “But when it came to ‘Grease!’ this is a pretty big show. I love ‘Grease!’ So I decided to try out and I got the part.”
First show and he landed Danny? How’s it fitting?
“I knew it was going to be tough, with all the rehearsal, but I knew it was going to be worth it,” he said, adding that his character is supremely confident, with a soft spot for Sandy, played by Samantha Kahn.
Kahn said one of the keys to her character is that she is in love for the first time.
Sandy undergoes a transformation and fits in with Danny’s crowd. It’s a message that might not sit well with some casual viewers, who see a girl changing for her boyfriend.
“Partly I’m changing for him, but I think I’m really changing for me because I’m fed up with how I’ve been perfect all my life and I want to live and be myself,” Kahn said. “I think in the end, it’s not ‘Look at me! Look what I did for my boyfriend!’ It’s more ‘Look at me! Look what I did for myself.’”
Michelle Rubich plays Rizzo, the tough girl who calls it as she sees it.
“I don’t think she’s mean,” Rubich said. “I think she’s just fed up with the high-school drama. She’s too cool for that. She’s so beyond. She’s ready to leave high school.”
“She thinks Sandy is too vulnerable, too naive and almost seeking attention through her naivete,” Rubich said. “Rizzo comes off as mean because she’s too true to herself, she’s almost too honest.”
John Alecci is Kenickie, who sings “Greased Lightning,” a love song to a car.
“Kenickie is a very cool cat,”?he joked. “So to get into character frankly doesn’t take that much.”
Like Danny, Kenickie has a tough-guy facade that he lets down to show a softer side.
“I think people will appreciate the difference, seeing both sides of him,”?Alecci said.
Where: Briarcliff High School, 444 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 19; 8 p.m. March 20; 2:30 p.m. March 21.
With: Nico Chavez-Oramos, Sam Kahn, John Alecci, Michelle Rubich, Olivia Glass, Jake Chatzky, Sarah Crosswell, Chetan Khanna, Helaine Meyer, Max Alley, Erica James, Chloe Effron, Logan Fine, Brandon Epstein, Brian Cipollina, Olivia Rerek, Rebecca Chalsen, Lea Stern, Rebecca Simpson-Wallick, Janine Wexler, Vickey Michelatos, Brian Wall, Matt Kaye, Jimmy Crowley, Sam Penny, Grace Schulz, Jessica Li, Samantha Sommer, Christine Cappelli, Caroline Davey, Jessica Lynch, Katelyn Wilson, Nikita Singh, Diane Wexler, Allegra Carter, Arielle Pearl, Emily Altabef, Amanda Marks, Zarah Kavarana, Vanessa Daneshvar, Emma Flihan, Rebecca Milner, Julie Pitter, Sami Linde, Carrie Jablansky, Elizbeth Chalsen, Jon Weiner, Daniel Jablansky, Alex Giusti, Wendy Willner, Dev Elms, Nikki Metzger, Jordan Mendelson, Zach Taube, Malcolm Reid, Alex Fisch