"Grease" endures

Annie Finnerty and Melissa McCormick. Photo by Ralph Stewart
A dramatic moment between Annie Finnerty (left) and Melissa McCormick. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - February 16, 2006

With slick-backed hair, poodle skirts, and ponytails, "Grease" opens tonight at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Performing Arts Center for a weekend run. A fun romp back in time, the show is a slightly irreverent look at an innocent era, told through the students of Rydell High.

"Grease" opened this week, 34 years ago, off-Broadway, capitalizing on the 1950s nostalgia craze of the early '70s. It was an instant hit with audiences, if not with the theatre establishment. The producers had to threaten legal action to have "Grease" be considered for Tony nominations (they received seven nominations). The show moved up town and into Broadway history, running for 3,388 performances. The 1978 movie version is still the top money-making musical of all time. The move's hit song, "Hopelessly Devoted To You," is often added to the stage version because audiences demand it even though it was not part of the original score.

Creators Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wanted to do a musical using rock and roll and characters from the '50s to challenge musical theatre conventions. With lyrics like "Look at me I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity," the pair turned Broadway upside down. Audiences can't get enough of "Grease." Road shows continue to criss-cross the country and wanna-be stars cut their teeth in high school productions belting out "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" and "We Go Together."

Now it's time for the current MVRHS students to put their mark on this classic. The show is directed by Kate Murray, Ed Cisek, and Jan Wightman. From the opening beat to the closing curtain "Grease" is sure to please.

"Grease" Thursday, Feb. 16, 7 pm, Friday, Feb. 17, 7 pm, and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 pm and 7 pm, at Performing Arts Center, high school, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Rd., Oak Bluffs. Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for students