This summer in Savannah, Grease IS the word.
From the first moment, when the smoke hits the stage and the actors of the Historic Savannah Theater begin to sing the first lines of the musical’s iconic opening chorus, the audience is transported.
You are no longer a Savannahian dodging summer heat or daily afternoon rain showers. Everyone in theater becomes a member of Rydell High School, harkening back to the bygone era of the 1950s when rock and roll was young, hair was big, and the biggest decision was who to ask for prom.
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Co-owner Mike Zaller knows the impact this beloved play and movie has had on people.
This is the sixth time he’s produced “Grease,” and August’s 20th year that his production company has called the Savannah Theater home. And you better hurry if you’ve caught a show yet – production only has one weekend left, with matinee and evening shows ending on Sunday.
“There’s such youthful energy and excitement that it’s so fun to watch these performers bring to the stage as they sing the songs and tell the story so familiar to Grease fans,” Zaller explained.
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The actors work hard to take the audience with them. Rydell’s obnoxious principal McGee opens the show, lashing out at “students” in the audience and threatening them with detention. Danny Zuko’s burlesque sidekick Sonny breaks the beat mid-show to flirt with the ladies in the audience and show off his best lines.
And the real show is when the T-Bird boys unfurl a life-size Bel Air roadster, beaming headlights at the audience as they do ballet-caliber leaps and twists between polishing the muscle-car’s fenders.
For those who grew up loving movies with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John cementing their roles in popular culture, for newbies getting their first taste of a classic, the cast is going full throttle to ensure a good time at all.
“I hope those who know and love Grease will come and relive the songs and the story that make them so happy, and for those who don’t know the show so well, that they can come and escape life for a few hours and check out this cast and have a great time,” Zaller added.
With many of the production company’s lead actors being older adults, Zaller said it was refreshing to open up the cast to a younger cast and start fresh in the “high school” cast for this production.
“Each actor brings a different perspective to the character they play,” he said.
“There’s such youthful energy and excitement that it’s so fun to watch these performers bring to the stage as they sing the songs and tell the story so familiar to Grease fans,” Zaller added.
In August, the production company will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the theatre, which has been operating continuously since 1818, claimed to be the oldest such theater in the country. They’ll celebrate by bringing back their debut production “Lost in the 50’s,” which continues the thread of doo-wop nostalgia in “Grease.”
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Later that month they will make their world premiere debut of ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ a World War II musical based on true stories, offering insight into the sacrifices and patriotism of the time. . This will be followed by “Savannah Live”, a high-energy musical revue.
And later this year, in November, the company will bring beloved Buddy the Elf back to life on stage in “Elf: The Musical,” before wrapping up the year with its annual Christmas variety show.
Zaller says that when the company first launched at the Savannah Theater two decades ago, they initially assumed tourists would make up the bulk of their audience.
Rather, he says it’s the support of locals who have kept the magic alive, returning year after year to support the local theater they love. “Saying ‘Thank You’ doesn’t seem like enough to express how I feel about their 2 decades of support and allowing us to be part of the Savannah community,” Zaller said.
“It’s always amazing every time someone stops me, whether at the theater or randomly around town, to say how happy they are that we’re in Savannah and how hopeful we stay. here for years to come!” he added.
For more information and tickets, visit: www.savannahtheatre.com
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
WHEN: 8 p.m. on July 27, 29 and 30; and 3 p.m. on Sunday July 31
WHERE: Historic Savannah Theater
COST: Tickets range from $25 for children to $50 for adults
Sandy – Caroline Feduccia
Danny – Joe Gauzza
Rizzo – Sarah Palmer
Kenickie – Sean Harber
Marty – Amie Dasher
Sonny – Chris Trevino
Frenchie – Delaney Yurco
Doody – Eric Ackerman
Roger JoJo Ward
Cha Cha – Hannah Dodson
Patty – Madison DeLoach
Johnny Casino – Silas Johnson
Ms. Lynch- Danielle Walker
Vince Fontaine – Matt Meece
Ensemble: Daryann Roberson, Charlotte Pinkerton, Jonathan DeCubellis, Daniel Bosch
Choreography by Michael Ferguson