‘Grease’ is the word at Scottdale’s Geyer
Actors and Artists of Fayette County takes audiences back to those fabulous ‘50s with its production of the popular Broadway musical “Grease” Aug. 15-18 at Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.
Will Dixon of Greensburg is directing the 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey that made John Travolta a teenage heartthrob in the 1978 film version starring very youthful versions of Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing.
It’s truly the perfect summertime musical, featuring such well-known songs as “Born to Hand Jive,” “Greased Lightning,” “Summer Nights,” “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” and “Beauty School Drop Out.”
Dixon says fans of the movie are in for a surprise by seeing the stage version that is a bit different.
A fresh experience
“You know the movie ‘Grease,’ but what you may not know is that the stage version has more songs, expanded characters and a few more storylines to fall in love with,” he says.
As the director, “the hardest part of this show is everyone thinks they know it, so changing anything is often met with resistance at first. However, once people see the different takes on scenes and characters, they end up really enjoying a fresh experience,” he says.
In the AAFC production, the two iconic roles of Sandy Dumbrowski, the innocent new girl in town, and Danny Zuko, Rydell High School’s coolest of the cool guys, are played by Isabella Leonardo of Uniontown and Danny Obeling of Mount Pleasant.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I loved ‘Grease’ and always dreamed of being Danny Zuko,” says Obeling, “so when a bunch of my friends told me they were putting ‘Grease’ on at the Geyer, I just had to audition.”
Musical bucket list
Leonardo says “Grease” has been on her musical bucket list as well.
“I’m moving to New York to study musical theater in the fall, and I figured this would be a wonderful opportunity to experience community theater and finally be able to take part in one of my all-time favorite musicals,” she says.
She previously performed as Katherine in “Newsies” and as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” at Laurel Highlands High School; Obeling most recently portrayed Daddy Warbucks in “Annie” at Mount Pleasant Area High School.
“The biggest challenge for me is definitely not wanting to disappoint the audience,” says Leonardo. “Sandy is such an iconic character that people have known and loved for years, and I not only want to bring the lovable, innocent Sandy to light, but I also want to show a different side of the character to the audience.”
Dixon previously co-directed “All Shook Up” and most recently performed as Eddy in “Mamma Mia,” as Mike in “A Chorus Line” and as Jack Kelly in “Newsies” at the State Theatre in Uniontown.
The director encourages theatergoers to check out AAFC’s production of “Grease.”
“‘Grease’ is just one of those shows that will blow you away,” he says. “It has so many funny and memorable moments that will stick with you for a long time.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.