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St. Jacobs set to get all Grease-d up


Grease is the word. It’s got groove, it’s got feeling. And it’s in that throwback vein that the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse is getting ready to transform into Rydell High, telling the story of young love, different worlds and high school angst.

Sandy and Danny will be singing about Summer Lovin’ and the doo wop in Kitchener-Waterloo Musical Productions’ (KWMP) most popular show yet, Grease.

KWMP’s Stephen Young says the upcoming production of the classic musical has been the group’s best-selling show to date. The company had to add an extra weekend to the playbill to accommodate all the audience members wanting to look in on the ‘50s-inspired romance that has graced stages for 45 years, having been first performed in 1971.

“This is our fastest selling show ever,” he said, mentioning that there are only a few tickets left. “By the time we announce a show, it would normally be 70 per cent sold out, but we were way over that. Now, we are sitting at 97 or 98 per cent sold. There are still seats available, but you have got to look for them.”

Young says the quick selling tickets didn’t come as a surprise. The story of the T-birds and the Pink Ladies, opposites attracting, and high school problems, Grease is a tried, tested and true production, that has entertained audiences for years and all over the world.

“Number one, it is an all-time favourite – it is a winner when it comes to musicals. There are all these different generations (coming to see it). I booked tickets to take my grandchildren, and both my daughter and my daughter-in-law told me they were coming too,” he said, adding that the recently televised live production of the timeless musical on Fox Network also helped with exposure. “There was a lot of buzz about that. That didn’t hurt. People have been hearing all about Grease, and KWPM puts on near-professional shows. I take pride in that.”

The cast of the upcoming production have been rehearsing since October, and are getting closer to opening night on Feb. 11. Young says the cast has created a theatrical family behind the scenes.

“A lot of the boys knew each other from other projects, but a lot of the girls, not so much, but they had a pajama party, just like they do in the show, and that sealed the deal,” he said, adding that you can see the camaraderie come through on stage. “Now, they are all best buddies and it translates onto the stage. You can just see them having a ball.”

The KWMP production of Grease, featuring the kids from Rydell High, opens Feb. 11 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. [Submitted]
The KWMP production of Grease, featuring the kids from Rydell High, opens Feb. 11 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. [Submitted]

The two main cast members are Nolan Henshall in the role of Danny Zuko, made famous by John Travolta in the 1978 film version of the story, and Maggie Roth, playing Sandy Dumbrowski, the role played by Olivia Newton-John. Young says the two actors bring a lot of talent to the stage.

“Nolan, he is from Guelph. He has been with us for a few years, playing the lead in Willy Wonka. He can sing and he can dance. He is a marvelous actor and is really serious about his craft and works hard,” he said. “Our own Maggie Roth, she comes from New Hamburg. She is on our board of directors, and I have watched her perform from when she was a little girl until now. She is just magnificent. She really is the Sandy type. It is really fun to see her come out at the end of the show in Sandy’s leather outfit. It is not her at all, but she can sell it.”

The show runs at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse for two weekends in a row: Feb. 11-13 and Feb. 17-20. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased online at www.kwmp.ca/shows/spring-shows/grease, or you can call the box office at 519-747-7788.

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