Fine arts students show off talent performing iconic musical

As I go traveling down life’s highway,

whatever course my fortunes may foretell.

I shall not go alone on my way,

for thou shall always be with me Rydell

On January 28th and 29th, the PAC transformed to Rydell High for “Grease.” After 10 weeks of learning dance moves, building sets and learning line after line, the students involved created memories of a lifetime.

“I’ve been a part of the musical since freshman year when we had our first musical in the new performing arts center, so opening night was so bittersweet,” senior Katherine Lee said. “This was also my last musical and my last time being able to play a character on stage, so I wanted to give it my all.”

For some actors, getting to act as students in the class of ‘59 let them step back in time and see what it was like when their grandparents were back in high school.

“It was very cool to sort of feel what it might have been like to go to school at the same time as my grandma and how much work it probably took for her to get ready in the morning,” senior Paige Greeney said. “This is my first musical at Willis, and I loved the experience and all the people I met through it. I was happy to be a part of it and to have a part where I was on stage a lot was a very cool experience.”

The actors were very high energy throughout all three shows, and they gave their all to put on the best show. 

“To become Sonny I just channeled my energetic personality into the performance,” senior Colton Land said. “Hearing the audience react helped us to put on a better show. The best part of the musical was the big dance numbers and getting to show off what I’m good at. The hardest part of the last musical was saying bye to all of the people I’ve done theater with since I was in middle school, but I plan to go to Sam Houston to become a theater major.”

Everyone has a crucial part to play in the musical to make sure everything comes together perfectly, especially the leads. That’s why the directors take special care when it came to casting the perfect Sandra D.

“When I walked up to the casting sheet, I honestly did not know what to expect,” senior Katherine Lee said. “I think I looked at what roles everyone else got before I even looked for my name. When I saw that I was the lead, my heart dropped. I know the directors don’t give leads to just anyone, and I know a lot of pressure and responsibility comes with playing the lead. I felt honored when I saw my name next to Sandy’s.”

Unlike the female lead who has been doing musicals her whole high school career, this was the first musical for the male lead.

“This was the first time I’d tried out for a musical ever,” senior Josh Brookshire said. “I’ve acted before and I have done tech for some musicals before. Danny as a role was intimidating at first because it is so famous and everyone has their opinions on what it should be, but by the end it was probably the most fun role I’ve gotten to do. 

Iconic solos like “Freddy, My Love” and  “Those Magic Changes” were performed during the musical which gave actors a chance to shine on stage. 

“When I sang my solo on closing night I felt we all wanted to finish strong,” senior Julian Roscom said. “It felt a little nerve racking knowing that any mistakes I made would be focused on and projected, but I was able to relax knowing that the majority of the work in my solo would be carried by the amazing people I was surrounded by on stage. Overall, I had a really good time, and I recommend any kid who’s just a tad interested with enough free time to come and join the next play.”

From iconic costumes to large sets, the cast of “Grease” practiced a lot to try and live up to the expectations of such a famous and well loved show.

“Between the leather outfit, having to act like I was in love with one of my friends and having to dance on top of a bar, the show definitely put me out of my comfort zone,” Lee said. “Having people watch me wasn’t the problem. To be honest, I zoned out the audience’s faces, and I fed off of their reactions and we got a lot of good reactions.”

Taking on the role of the one and only Danny Zuko can be daunting but Brookshire took it in stride and made the character his own.

“I improvised a lot because I could,” Brookshire said. “I’m used to the competitive setting where you have to follow a role to the letter, so being able to say things a little differently or express things differently was a nice change of pace. Almost every movement or mannerism I did in the show outside musical numbers was an in-the-moment-choice. I twisted the ring around when I was thinking of Sandy. I tried to make Danny feel like a living character whenever I could. He was a little awkward, he was a little overconfident and he flirted with every female character at some point in the show. I just wanted there to be a little more there than a John Travolta imitation.”