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PEMCo to stage production of ‘Grease’

| Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cast members of the Pasquerilla East Musical Company's, "Grease," which has showings Thursday to Saturday, practice "Those Magic Changes," one of the show's musical numbers.Photo Courtesy of Jake Ricci
Cast members of the Pasquerilla East Musical Company’s, “Grease,” which has showings Thursday to Saturday, practice “Those Magic Changes,” one of the show’s musical numbers.

The Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) is shaping up to perform “Grease” March 23-25 on the Washington Hall main stage.

Senior Morgan Rice, who is a producer for the show, said the musical was previously performed as PEMCo’s third main stage musical production in 2000, and 18 members of this original PEMCo “Grease” cast will be in attendance at the Saturday show.

Seventeen years later, PEMCo executive producer, senior Amanda Bartolini, said PEMCo has grown quite a bit in terms of budget and the show is going to reflect these increased capabilities.

“We really have a strong tech team and we wanted to emphasize that but we also wanted to have a big enough show to emphasize all the talent we have — over 100 people came to try out,” Rice said.

Senior Samantha Squeri is directing the show and said she collaborated with a group of producers to choose “Grease,” taking into consideration factors such as budget and talent pool.

Squeri and Rice said they were drawn to redoing “Grease,” a notorious fan favorite, and giving it a better message to make it more accessible in today’s world.

The current production team hopes to take the well-known story in a new direction. This performance differs from the 2000 performance not only in the fact that it will utilize never-before-seen lighting effects, but also in the stronger feminist message it conveys.

“It’s definitely going to be a new production based on the way that our director is taking it,” Bartolini said.

Though the storyline and songs from the musical are well known, Squeri was not exactly devoted to the musical’s sometimes controversial message, which she said was originally intended as a satire. Squeri said instead she opted for alterations to the show that will give the audience an opportunity to think about something deeper.

“At the end, Sandy isn’t changing for him, she’s changing for her … she’s coming more into her own, being more comfortable with her own self, her own person and her own sexuality. We are trying to show that the Pink Ladies encourage her to be who she wants to be by the end, and it just so happens that being more confident in herself makes [Danny] more attracted to her,” Squeri said.

Sophomore Mario Simone, who plays Danny, said the role was difficult to prepare for due to the new direction of the show.

“We basically created a new character for Danny, where he’s not as interested in Sandy as an object and more in her as a confident new person,” he said.

In addition to thematic changes, some of the songs may sound unfamiliar to audience members, as they are in the original musical, but not the 1978 movie version.

“People are going to hear music that’s probably new to them … people will be entertained by the classics but get some new stuff as well,” Bartolini said. “It’s worth their time to invest in seeing it again.”

Rice said she was confident the production will be a success.

“We’re hoping that with this production we can bring more than just entertainment value and bring home a more important message,” Rice said.

Performances will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


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