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Theater

Apple Hill Playhouse stages perfect summer musical — 'Grease'

| Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 9:48 a.m.
The Burger Palace Boys talk things over with Danny (Alex Conte of Cheswick), at center, in a scene from the musical 'Grease' July 12-21 at Apple Hill Playhouse.
Tobitha Sasso
The Burger Palace Boys talk things over with Danny (Alex Conte of Cheswick), at center, in a scene from the musical 'Grease' July 12-21 at Apple Hill Playhouse.
The Pink Ladies get to know Sandy (Raegan Hochman of Harrison City), at right, in a scene from the musical 'Grease' July 12-21 at Apple Hill Playhouse.
Tobitha Sasso
The Pink Ladies get to know Sandy (Raegan Hochman of Harrison City), at right, in a scene from the musical 'Grease' July 12-21 at Apple Hill Playhouse.

Before John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John became sexy symbols of young summer love as Danny and Sandy in the 1978 movie, “Grease,” a stage version of the film seven years earlier introduced theater-goers to a gritty group of teens.

Apple Hill Playhouse takes a look at the original 1971 musical written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey July 12-21, with a cast featuring Alex Conte of Cheswick as Danny and Raegan Hochman of Harrison City as Sandy.

“A lot of people have seen ‘Grease' before, but not as many have seen the original stage show. It will be interesting for the audience to see how the show really started and where it was changed when made into a movie,” says Conte.

Defining characters

His character is the leader of the Burger Palace Boys.

“He is strong, confident, and stubborn with a cool, easy-going charm about him,” Conte says. “The most difficult part about playing Danny Zuko is capturing the classic Danny that everyone loves from the movie while still adapting him to myself and our production.”

Hochman also is working to define her character.

“You can tell she comes from a strict family, but she needs to find herself. Knowing her limits and believing what's right, by the end of the performance she finds that person she was looking for all along,” she says.

Hochman recently played the role of Rizzo in Penn Trafford High School's production of “Grease” and says she loved the show too much not to do it again at Apple Hill. She also was Holly in Stage Right's “The Wedding Singer” and Margot in “Legally Blonde” at Penn Trafford.

Music from Broadway

Mallory Mousseau Grantz is directing “Grease” at the Delmont playhouse and says audiences also can expect a musical score that is different from the film version.

“A lot of songs you may be expecting to hear were added specifically for the movie,” she says, “but I think the songs from the original Broadway production are really amazing and the audience is going to love them.”

Grantz, director of performing arts for Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter School in Wilmerding, most recently performed in “Chicago” (Velma) for Penn State New Kensington and in “Always, Patsy Cline” (Louise Seeger) for Apple Hill.

Conte was last seen in “Chicago” at Penn State New Kensington and will perform in “The Princess Bride” at Penn State at University Park this fall.

The cast of “Grease” also features Kaylyn Farneth of New Kensington as Frenchy, Mairead Roddy of Pittsburgh as Rizzo, Michael Good of Export as Doody, Matt Hommel of Monroeville as Kenickie and Logan Smith of Pittsburgh as Teen Angel.

Music direction is by Cindy Baltzer; choreography is by Rori Aiello Mull.

Candy Williams is a Tribunr-Review contributing writer.

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