For the final show of the Sherman Community Players’ 69th season, the play production company will be taking on the 1950s musical, “Grease.” With a few newcomers to SCP theater and a few seasoned crew members, the cast members will sing and dance their way through the classic.
Grease will be showing at the Finley Cultural Center in Sherman from June 1 through June 24. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The play will show at 2 p.m. on Sundays.
The book, music, and lyrics for the show were written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey with additional music by Barry Gibb. The Sherman production is directed by Anthony Nelson and choreographed by Fort Worth artist Katreeva Phillips.
Matt Maxwell has taken on quite a few roles at SCP, but putting on the clothes of Danny Zuko, Maxwell said, has been his biggest challenge.
“This is my biggest role with them,” he said Tuesday. “I definitely was not expecting to play Danny. I did not even go for Danny. I went for Kenickie. I just sang my heart out. I have done quite a few shows with Anthony (Nelson). It has been a little over seven years now so I feel like I know him. He gave me a call and said, ‘You’re going to play Danny.’ I was just speechless. I did not expect that at all.”
The most difficult part of putting the role together, Maxwell said, was learning all the choreography.
“I knew that the dancing would be difficult,” he said. “I did, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and so many others and they were good, good shows, but this one has the most intense dance choreography that I have done.”
Maxwell also said he cannot wait for the audience to see the choreography during the song, “Hand Jive.”
“‘Hand Jive’ is with all the ensemble and the cast and it’s the start of act two,” he said. “We are at the prom and we are all dancing together. … It is fantastic.”
When people leave the show during the monthlong run, Maxwell hopes they get a sense of how much of a family the cast and crew have become while working on the show.
“I want people to be saying that they saw just one big family up on stage,” he said. “People talk about drama during shows, but what is really good about here at Finley is that since day one, we have treated each other like family. I love that. We help each other out.”
Rudy Reynoso, who will be playing Vice Fontaine and Teen Angel, agreed that after all of the time spent in rehearsal with his castmates, he feels like the theater members could have actually been classmates.
“I did not know about all of the moving parts that it takes to make shows like this happen,” he said. “It’s not just about the charisma and chemistry of the cast. There are a lot of logistical elements like the lights, sound, and we are doing some really awesome things on stage. It all has to be timed perfectly. We have had to work really hard to get everything together. The repetition has been so important.”
This is Reynoso’s first show with SCP, but this is not his first time on stage.
“My normal area is performing magic so this is a different kind of self expression,” he said. “Anthony (Nelson) calls this the arts. It is really everything. The music, the dancing, the singing — we are putting the art forms together.”
Reynoso has been in another theater group’s production of “Grease.”
“The only other stage performance I have done was also coincidentally Grease, but it was in high school. It was senior year and I played Sonny Latierri in that production.”
Gaining his role in this production of the show, for Reynoso seemed like it was just meant to be.
“I had a friend that called me up and was like, ‘The Sherman Community Players are doing auditions for “Grease.” Would you be down to come and try out?’” he said. “This was on the day of auditions. Prior to this, I did not know about the auditions or anything. I decided to try out and see what happens. My friend actually could not participate due to scheduling conflicts, but I ended up getting a call back. It was a happy series of accidents that got us here.”
Reynoso said he is most excited to see people hear him perform the song “Beauty School Drop Out,” which he describes as something magical.
Also a newcomer to SCP, Hannah Posner said she was speechless when she found out that she would be playing Sandy Olsson.
“I did not know anybody here,” she said. “I just walked in and asked for Sandy. This is an iconic role and Sherman Community Players has such a good following. This is a lot of hype to live up to. I am super nervous.”
Posner said, while she went for the role of Sandy, her favorite scene in the movie is when Rizzo performs “There are Worse Things I Can Do.”
“It is because of the way that Stockard Channing did the song,” she said. “She does not have crazy-good vocals, but the emotion was there. It just gets me every time. It’s so good.”
And the hardest part of preparing for the role of Sandy was making sure that she had the perfect hair said the McKinney native who went to school in Tom Bean.
“I wanted (the role) so badly, and I knew this would be a great show,” she said. “My hair was red and about six inches longer. It was a lot of work to get it where it is today. It was worth every bit though.”
Also making sure the production remains true, Benjamin Fuhr, who will be running the spotlight for the production, said the effects will really help move the show along.
He said people will really be surprised when they are first introduced to the vehicle Grease Lightning during the show.
“There is the smoke and the horn,” he said. “It is going to be a neat setting on stage. We cannot do things like they did in the movie like dancing on top of the car. There are some surprises. We have a really talented crew that made the car out of Styrofoam and wood. It is amazing and, hopefully, we will be able to hold on to it and use it in the future.”
Fuhr also said people should come see “Grease” because the story is a classic.
“Everybody loves Grease,” he said. “Everyone knows the songs. I remember when I was younger, TBS would run specials and “Grease” would play all day long. There was once that they put the words on the bottom of the screen with a bouncing ball so you could singalong and watch the show. It is so iconic. You cannot get more ’50s America than with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Everyone has fallen in love with this through the years. You really cannot go wrong with this show as long as you treat it nice.”
Tickets for the show can be purchased at the box office by calling 903-892-8818 or by visiting scptheater.org. Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors and $12 for students. The theater is located at 500 N. Elm Street in Sherman.