THE WINTER chill might be starting to bite, but audiences can still enjoy ‘Summer Nights’ – and a slew of other pop classics - at the Town Hall Theatre next week when the Performing Arts School Galway stage Grease.
“It’s our first time ever doing Grease,” PASG director Paula McGurrell tells me. “The kids themselves wanted to do it. To begin with, the students in our senior class begged us to do it and when we opened it out to the floor all of the kids right down to the eight-year olds knew the songs and wanted to do it too.”
McGurrell admits she was not expecting a 1950s-themed musical would so readily connect with her 2013 pupils.
“I was really surprised because when I’ve mentioned people like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis to some of the kids in the past they didn’t know who they were,” she said. “There is obviously something big about Grease that everybody knew it so well and were so excited about the idea of doing it. We’re also doing the full version of the musical rather than the usual schools version because the full one has extra songs that the school one cuts out.”
McGurrell is doing choreography for the production while the show has two directors, both of whom are PASG teachers. Annie Cleary, herself a PASG graduate, is doing the ensemble work while Eve Vaughan, a graduate of RADA, is directing the leads.
Is McGurrell relishing taking on the show’s dance routines? “Yes, absolutely!” she enthuses. “I can do my own spin on the dance numbers. We’re doing quite an original take on several of the songs; we plan to assemble a whole car onstage during ‘Greased Lightning’ and for ‘Raining On Prom Night’ we’re going to add a ‘Singing In The Rain’ twist where all of the kids have umbrellas.”
Danny (ie, the John Travolta role ) is played by Glen Hunt.
“Glen did his Leaving Cert this year and was then accepted to the drama course in the Dublin Institute of Technology,” McGurrell says. “He has been commuting between here and Dublin over the past few weeks to attend rehearsals
“Sandy is played by Edel McGrath who has been with PASG for a number of years. She recently appeared in Mephisto Theatre Company’s production of Eclipsed at the Town Hall.”
The PASG ensemble might well be needing a shoehorn to get the rest of the cast onstage, as McGurrell explains with a laugh: “There are 180 in the cast altogether. All of our students take part in the show. We have a new set designer this year, Mary Doyle, who has worked with Blue Teapot and she was flabbergasted when I told her first, saying she had never designed a set for that many people. But she came up with a genius design so we are excited about working with it.”
Grease runs at the Town Hall from Thursday November 28 to Saturday 30 at 7.30pm nightly. There is also a 2.30pm matinee performance on the Saturday. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie