Grease is the Word

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My first experience in a musical, specifically “Grease,” was definitely an interesting one. Through the ups and downs of being a poodle skirt girl and making “Grease” come to life, the experience was definitely worth it for me in the end.
This musical was also a first time experience for Mary Vik, a junior and a part of backstage running crew, and Nicole Kwok, a junior and poodle skirt girl like myself.

When I auditioned it was quite nerve wracking, but worth it in the end because for both Nicole Kwok and I it was “Something [we] had always wanted to try.”

The audition process was quite interesting. On the first day of auditions, everyone who showed up had to perform a song, many people just sung happy birthday, and then everyone had to read some dialogue from “Grease.” Girls had to read some of Frenchie’s lines while guys had to read some of Dodie’s lines.

On the second day of the audition we all had to learn about 30 seconds of choreography from the song “We Go Together,” in the time span of 45 minutes. Everyone got up on stage and was taught the choreography by Anna Odell. We had about 30 minutes to practice before Mrs. Romano and Mrs. Brockmeyer called up groups of 5 people at a time to watch us perform the choreography we had just learned. The audition was very long.

About a week or so after auditioning, Mrs. Brockmeyer posted the cast list and everyone’s roles on her door. This is when I found out that I was to be part of the ensemble and be a poodle skirt girl.

A poodle skirt girl is just the 50s equivalent of today’s basic white girl. In the show, poodle skirt girls were in the background of all of the big dance numbers. We all wore pastel colored shirts and long poodle skirts.

Being a poodle skirt girl entailed a lot of fun aspects of the musical like learning the dances for the big dance numbers and being able to dress up like a girl from the 1950s. It was fun because we did not have to learn a dance for every song and did not have to memorize lines. Nicole Kwok agreed and said that her favorite part was “learning the dances.”

The downside to playing the role of a poodle skirt girl, or any ensemble role for that matter, is that I was not in every scene (though I was still in a fair amount), and did not get as much recognition as the people playing the principal roles, but obviously that is to be expected. A downside to being in the show in general, no matter what your role, is that the long rehearsals do not give you much down time to relax or do homework. Nicole says that the hardest thing for her was “making time to come to each rehearsal.”

Being part of the cast of a musical is fun, and it’s great way to interact with new people, but it’s also a great way to meet some of the wonderful people in tech crew. I enjoyed talking to tech crew (as well as the cast) when there was downtime because two of my friends were in tech crew. Mary Vik was one of them.

Due to Mary being in tech crew, her first experience doing a musical was different from mine. Mary said that although the show was overall “stressful and tiring,” she showed up to rehearsal every day because she wanted to honor the commitment she made to the show. Mary and I both agreed that the show was fun when we had time in between scenes and got a chance to talk to each other. She also said that talking to Michelle Lee, another person in backstage running crew was fun because “she always made [her] laugh.” Mary also said that “opening and closing the curtain was fun.”

She explains that the downside to being in tech crew was that “keeping track of every prop and remembering what needed to go out on stage and when,” was difficult.

In the process of making Grease the amazing musical it was, tech week was the biggest challenge. Everyone involved in the show had to stay at the school from 5pm to about 10pm every night, making it hard to get homework done, and leaving little time for sleep. The fact that we had dress rehearsal every day for a week was also rather exhausting. Even though tech week was tough, it definitely bonded the cast and crew, and made us a stronger team than ever before.

The show seemed to be stressful and tiring for most of the cast, but seeing the entire thing come together on the premiere night of the show really made all the long hours worth it for me. The feeling of performing in front of a full house for the first time is priceless and made me want to participate even more in the drama company here at Patterson Mill.

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