Friday, March 18, 2011

Grease is the Word (aka Why I Haven't Been Blogging)

I've been engrossed in tech week for our spring musical this week, so engrossed that I've not seen Idol (I do know who's been eliminated) or pretty much anything else outside of Glee (which I forced myself to stay up and watch after rehearsal earlier this week). Directing this show has really been a dream come true for me, a dream that is a good thirty years old. As much as I'm looking forward to a return to normalcy, I'm also sad to see what has been a really great six weeks come to an end. I have to say good-bye to a group of wonderful seniors -- the first freshmen I had when I took over Drama Club four years ago. I guarantee there will be a lot of tears this weekend. A lot.

Below is an excerpt of the director's notes from tonight's program.

A little over thirty years ago, a precocious seven-year-old girl, obsessed with musical theatre, donned her favorite Shaun Cassidy sweatshirt and drug her grandmother to see Grease. While Grandma dozed off about ten seconds into the opening credits, the little girl sat completely enraptured by the joyous music and dance on the screen. She went home and hounded her parents until they broke down and bought her the double-album soundtrack that allowed her to re-live all her favorite moments with help from a plucky cast of stuffed animals.

If you haven’t already figured out that little girl grew up to direct tonight’s production...well….surprise!

Like many members of the audience, Grease has been a significant part of my cultural landscape since its stage debut in 1972. The original stage production was part of a wave of 1950’s nostalgia that swept America in the 1970’s. Along with American Graffiti and Happy Days, Grease looked back with wry affection at that pivotal moment in modern history when youth became king and innocence had its last gasp before Beatles invaded, bombs hit Vietnam, and Watergate destroyed a presidency.

What I find particularly ironic is that no one involved in tonight’s production was even alive to witness this iconic moment in American history. We are, instead, the children and grandchildren of Danny, Sandy, and the gang. Despite the half century that separates us, though, we can still identify with these ragtag greasers and the girls who (sometimes) love them. Their joys, fears, and insecurities are ours, too. Only now, we post them all on Facebook rather than breaking into song.

For tonight, though, let’s silence our cell phones, put our laptops to sleep, and transport ourselves back to a time when “Grease” was more than a word — it was a way of life.

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