High school never changes.
That is what the drama department at Ballenas Secondary School has discovered while rehearsing GREASE!, the next play to be featured at the Whalebone Theatre.
“The stuff that teenagers care about is still the same,” said director and teacher Doug Campbell, listing looks, being cool and staying true to your friends as a few of those things. “Your friends are your world in high school.”
According to lead actors Alexandra McCoy and Alexandre Howard, both in Grade 12, that level of friendship definitely exists within the cast
“We hang out all the time,” said McCoy, who has taken on the role of Sandy. “We already have such a strong relationship that we don’t have to act that out.”
Howard, who plays Danny, added that the chemistry between the students is making the play “pop.”
“Knowing I have my friends behind me helps me be more confident in my character,” he said.
“It makes it much easier,” agreed McCoy. “We don’t feel like we’re being judged.”
Campbell said that it’s in part due to this timeless feeling that the play is so popular and why the Whalebone Theatre is once again bringing it to life.
Ballenas students first tackled GREASE! in 1999 and Campbell said he’s “been waiting to get enough people… especially guys” to put it back on stage.
“It’s just fun,” he said. “The songs, to me, are some of the best musical scenes there are.”
He also said that the show is one that appeals to all ages. “You want a show that appeals to both the actors and the audience,” he said.
“Everybody knows it,” agreed Howard, who said that he grew up with the film and is excited to finally play Danny Zuko.
In total, Campbell said there are around 30-40 “totally committed” students in the production and Campbell said many of the actors are in grades 8-10.
“This is the biggest cast we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said McCoy.
Campbell also said that this year’s play is not an homage to the stage play. “We’re trying to do a really good reproduction of the movie,” he said. As such, there will be all of the classic elements of the film on stage: graduation carnival, leather and pink satin jackets, a drag race, plenty of hair foils and a dance competition. Helping to bring the latter, and other dance numbers, to life is co-choreographer Kim Wallace, who played Sandy alongside Zach Stevenson’s Danny in the Whalebone Theatre’s original staging of GREASE!. “It’s wonderful to be able to give back,” she said. “This program gave me so much.”
After graduation, Wallace went on to be a professional dancer and worked in musical theatre, mainly in the U.K. She now teaches dance occasionally at Parksville’s Innovative Dance Arts.
“We’re so lucky to have her here,” said McCoy.
You can take in the friendship, music and dancing of GREASE! at Ballenas’ Whalebone Theatre Feb. 18-20 and 25-27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, and Campbell said people should “get here early.”