Summer ends – the year is 1959. Grade eleven students return to Rydell High School as seniors, sporting opinions about school, staff and each other. In this final high school year, they are top rung, the school is theirs and they’re able to assume power and status as seniors; they’re a force to be reckoned with. Girls cluster with girls. Guys ‘hang’ with guys. The senior year is about next steps – next steps in and beyond high school, next steps in terms of courtship and couple-hood, next steps …. A new girl enters the arena of school, Sandra Dombrowsky and the social equilibrium of year twelve becomes flux, teetering several relationships toward daring next steps, more permanent next steps.
So begins the musical of Grease with its notable characters – Danny Zucko, Rizzo, Frenchy, Kenickie, Doody and others. And, our student actors have concluded twelve months work in grappling with all that’s involved in bringing this narrative to Life and doing so musically. For our student actors, the coming-on of confidence was notable and palpable within the last few rehearsals. And, it was most notable between the first and last night of performance with student actors coming-into their own and enjoying the business of acting out the Lives and potentialities of their characters. For these student actors, connection and response from the audience was found, understood, seized and used to bring off a performance worthy of any metropolitan theatre. They found their way to an excellent performance and standing ovation last Saturday night. In helping this student endeavor along my role was to capture a series of threshold moments moving the troupe from its final three rehearsals through to three live performances. The images I’ve provided the group draw mainly from their final performance in which they were most in sync with their characters, each other and enjoying it all. I also contributed a print from the first cattails series a few weeks back – I printed it out and had it framed in Peace River by Jill Plaizier of Custom Frameworks; she was able to handle a quick turn-around time and to create a beautiful framing of the print that accentuates its colours.
Tonight, while I do not have permission to display student photos on the website, I do wish to celebrate them and their accomplishment with this photo of an early fifties Chevrolet that’s undergone the kind of transformation that Kenickie’s 1940 Dodge Sedan goes through in the film version of Grease; Kenickie and pals begin this section of the musical with “… It’s Systematic … It’s Hydromatic … Why … It’s Greased Lightning.” For me, tonight, I’m at the other end of the project. I’ve edited some six hundred photographs of the two-thousand or so taken. I’ve created an Animoto and DVDs for each cast member. I’m providing them each with photos of their best night. And, I’ve got them a print to frame for hanging upon school walls.
Listening to – while there has been the Grease tunes like Greased Lightning, Grease and You’re the One that I Want, there’s also been David Lindley’s Mercury Blues and then the curiosity referred to by Jimmy Paige as one of those songs that pushed him forward in his guitar work – Rumble by Link Wray and the Wraymen.
Quote to Inspire – “You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.” – William Albert Allard