It may seem like the Regional Theatre of the Palouse musical cast for “Grease” is one big clique.A small group of Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys sit in a circle to sing an acoustic version of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” before they rehearse a scene. The actors for Sandy and Danny leave rehearsals one night to go watch “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” together. And inside jokes are popular during backstage chatter.
But in RTOP’s clique, unlike Rydell High, nobody’s left out.
“I hate cliques,” said RTOP director John Rich. “It’s a real team effort of a production. It’s really an ensemble piece.”
Full of high school and college students, RTOP’s cast is young — mirroring the ages of characters in the musical.
Chloe Cavender, or Sandy, played the same role just four years ago during her senior year of high school.
“Trying to give everything for a boy, or trying to know where your place is in life,” said Cavender, a senior University of Idaho theater performance major. “Now, as a senior in college, it’s very relatable, because it’s every man’s struggle.”
Hollis Higginson, or Danny, is just a junior in high school, and while he doesn’t have much experience acting, he has closely studied 1950s and ‘60s actors who have played Danny in the past.
“You take things from each one, little mannerisms,” Higginson said. “But you want to make them your own, so you can’t pay attention to them too much.”
Jacqueline Sewell, who plays Rizzo, is acting for her first production outside of a small high school play. Luckily, the RTOP clique has helped her become her hardcore, sassy counterpart.
“There is a lot to put together, but everyone’s really supportive,” she said.
“It really takes a group of people, and it’s a fairly large group of people, working together on stage,” Rich said. “It’s much harder to do a really happy, upbeat comedy show. As a director, it’s easier to make an audience cry than to laugh.”
But this tight-knit clique is up for the challenge.
RTOP’s musical “Grease” opens Thursday.
Lindsey Treffry can be contacted at (208) 883-4640 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LindseyTreffry.
-> if you go:
WHAT: RTOP’s musical production of “Grease”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7-9 and 13-16, 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9 and 16-17
WHERE: RTOP Theatre, 122 N. Grand Ave., Pullman
COST: $17 (advance) and $20 (door) for adults, $10 (advance) and $12 (door) for children. Tickets can be purchased by calling (509) 334-0750 or by visiting the RTOP box office, noon-5 p.m. weekdays.
Did you know?
The closing number “You’re The One That I Want” in the 1978 film “Grease” is not an original song from the 1971 Broadway musical.
“There’s a reason that they re-wrote the one that originally closed the (Broadway) show and put this one in,” said Chloe Cavender, or Sandy. “The original closing number for this show was a song called ‘All Choked Up’ and it’s very Elvis Presley-ish in that vein, but it’s not a stand-out number compared to a lot of these numbers.”
So when the film was made, “You’re The One That I Want” was written for Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Broadway later followed suit, and that’s the hit RTOP performs to end the show.