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“Grease” is an “American theater classic. This show was written to be pure, uncomplicated entertainment and that is exactly what it delivers,” said Jessica Voodre, co-director of Gladstone High School’s production of the show, April 10 and 11.


PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Gearing up for 'Greased Lightning' are, left to right, Tyler Archer, Colton Shore,  Jeremy Bliss (standing), Armand Jayne and Kyle Obermire.Voodre, is a full-time social studies teacher at GHS, and this year shares directing duties with Katy Pearson, first-year English and drama teacher.

“We are producing the high school version of ‘Grease,’ so there was no need to make any changes. Due to the popularity of the show among high school audiences, Samuel French decided to license an edited copy of the original production. References to adult themes have been removed from this version of the show, which prevents awkward moments during rehearsal, and questions about what is appropriate from our parents and community,” Voodre said.

“This show was picked by the kids. They found the high school version, and they advocated for it. They have been excited about it since last fall,” Pearson added.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Pictured as the Pink Ladies discuss strategy, are, left to right, Faith Harris, Brelynn Stratton, Lindsey Trost and Anne Noble.“Grease” is a 1971 rock‘n’roll musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. It is set in 1959 in the fictional Rydell High School and follows 10 teenagers as they deal with all the issues that teens still deal with today, including peer pressure and love.

“It is about cool guys, cool girls and friendship, and it has really good music. Everyone is having fun,” Pearson said.

Lots of hard work

Even with a “fun” musical, there is a huge amount of hard work that goes into a production with more than 20 high school students.

“There are dozens of production elements that create what you see on show nights: acting, singing, dancing, costumes, lighting, sets, sound, music, props, makeup, advertising, house management on show nights. The to-do list seems insurmountable at times,” Voodre said.

For the past eight years, she has been running two full-length theater productions at GHS as an after-school program only, with no daytime drama classes to draw from.

“This year, my colleague Katy Pearson was hired as a part-time English and drama teacher, and is now building a foundation so that students are prepared for auditions, and understand the complicated elements of a production,” Voodre said.

“Moving forward, Katy will take the reins of our productions in the hopes that a genuine drama department will be funded,” she added.

Pearson is amazed at the energy and commitment that the cast members bring to “Grease.”

“They’re in school all day, and at the end of every day they’re here rehearsing. I don’t know how they do it,” she said.

She added that she is grateful for the vocal coaching from Voodre and GHS choir teacher Jim Gent.

Audiences will love the “Greased Lighting” number, Voodre said, adding, “We have some great performers who really bring that number to life. I also love the high school dance scene, where you get to see classic high school interactions played out in a fun way. The finale number will leave all audience members smiling, so I appreciate that scene, too.”

Pearson’s favorite scene is one that is not in the movie version of “Grease,” she said.

“It takes place in the park and is a big group scene. Some are having fun, some are angry. It has a little bit of everything.”

Danny and Rizzo

Sophomore Abby Bender plays Sandy, a new student at Rydell High, who captures the interest of Danny, played by senior Armand Jayne.

A week before the musical was set to open, Bender was still in Costa Rica on a school field trip, but Jayne was eager to discuss his role in “Grease.”

“Danny is the coolest dude in school. Everyone looks at Danny, and he knows it. He’s smooth, charismatic and charming; the perfect character, minus his insecurities,” Jayne said.

“I like his swagger. He is unflappable, and his walk is never disrupted,” he added.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Most of the members of the cast of 'Grease' gathered for a rehearsal photo, before staging the school dance number in the show.Not too surprisingly, his favorite scene also is “Greased Lightning,” but he also loves “We Go Together,” at the end of Act 1.

He noted that the cast performs to recorded music, but everyone is really singing, and in fact, this is Jayne’s first time singing in front of an audience.

What will audiences like best?

“How authentic we are. We are the ‘50s; we are young and active and loud and the audience will feel like they’re in the show,” he said.

Faith Harris, a sophomore, plays Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies.

“She’s very complex. She has a tough exterior, but deep down is not as sarcastic as she portrays herself. I like her dark sense of humor,” Harris said.

She really enjoys the group scenes, her favorite being the prom scene, and said audiences will enjoy the musical numbers.

Harris added, “We work well as an ensemble, and everyone fits their character so well and portrays their characters so perfectly.

Jumpin jive

What: Gladstone High School presents “Grease”

When: 7 p.m. April 10 and 11

Where: The GHS auditorium, 18800 Portland Ave.

Tickets: $5 at the door; visit gladstone.k12.or.us or

call 503-655-2544.

The cast includes: Nikki Alexander, Tyler Archer, Kobie Arnold, Abigail Bender, Jeremy Bliss, Alyssa Charriere, Spencer Coy, Dylan Croonquist, Marina Hampton, Faith Harris, Nicole Hart, Emily Hunt, Armand Jayne, Bailey McDonald, Ali McFarland, Anne Noble, Kyle Obermire, Colton Shore, Brelynn Stratton, Lindsey Trost and Renada Villanti.

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