"Grease" This Weekend At The Sheridan Opera House

The Sheridan Arts Foundation's Young People's Theatre presents "Grease" this weekend at Telluride's Sheridan Opera House. The show runs Feb 6-8 (Fri-Sun) at 6:00 pm.

"Grease" is a jumping, jitterbugging and leaping, rocking and rolling spoof of 1950s teen innocence chockablock with songs you can whistle, tunes that recall the Buddy Holly hiccups, the Little Richard yodels, and the Elvis bumps and grinds that made the sounds of the era such a gas.

The enduring musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey is essentially a series of lively vignettes about black leather and shiny cars, satin pink and pajama parties, drive-ins, ear-piercing, smoking, wine-chugging, and dating. Home base, Rydell High is Never Never Land with classrooms, where classes are breaks between dances and hanging around in the hall.

But Jen Julia, director of the Sheridan Arts Foundation's Young People's Theater
program thinks "Grease" is something more, not just a word, but the way teens are feeling.

" 'Grease' is incredibly accessible for high school students, because it’s about high school students.  It addresses current issues: peer pressure, making difficult choices, relationships, the pain of social awkwardness.  The writing is still fresh, witty, and relevant.  And the film made the characters so iconic, the kids love playing them."

The coolest of the cool T-birds is Danny Zuko,  a role first made famous by John Travolta, then locally by Jesse Parry. In the SAFYPT revival, Walker Hollrah picks up the comb.

Walker is student council president of Telluride High School. When he participated in last year's Telluride Aids Benefit  Student Fashion Show, it was his first time on stage. When not in the limelight, he enjoys climbing and skiing, and is a member of  the hockey and golf teams.  Walker also plays several instruments, including the banjo, guitar, and trumpet.

Sandy Dumbrowski is Gidget with potential, a porcelain doll who falls off the shelf and doesn't break. In this production, she is played by Brittany Altman, reduxing Julia Crockett's star turn in town.  (Footnote: A recent graduate of New York University, today Julia has become a professional actress.You first saw her here.)

Brittany is a Telluride High School senior, who has been in the SAFYPT since second grade, including  the original cast of "Peter Pan."  She is also the starting middle hitter on the THS volleyball team and participates in four different choir groups with the Telluride Choral Society.  Brittany is  one of two student directors of the Telluride Aids Benefit Student Fashion Show. In college, she hopes to study broadcast journalist

Rizzo is the sass-talking, too-smart-for-her-own-good leader of the Pink Ladies, Danny Zuko in a tight skirt. The girl/woman with the tough as nails outside and marshmallow for insides is played by Emma Gross, stepping into the high heels of alumna Lucy Price.

Emma is 17 years old and has lived in Telluride her entire life. She has been involved iin the SAFYPT since fourth grade, having played Aunt Spiker in "James in the Giant Peach," Grumpy in "Snow White,"  the Giant in "Jack & The Beanstalk," choir girl Clementine in "Hello Dolly." "I live and breath music, it is my raison d'etre."  

Emma graduated Telluride High School one semester early to pursue environmental studies in Peru, where she will live in an eco-village for three months.

Jen explains that it is kids like her leads that keep her coming back for more:

"People always ask me how, after 10 years, I keep things fresh.  I manage to do this by constantly pushing myself to come up with innovative and edgy staging ideas, by occasionally writing my own scripts and generating my own material, and most importantly, by really LISTENING to the kids every day.  I always take their perspectives and ideas and feelings into account, and I feel that makes our dramatic work livelier and more relevant.  I am devoted to and fascinated by my students, always."

Watch the video to hear more from these uber cool local stars.

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