Some of us remember bobby socks, poodle skirts and early rock ’n’ roll — and some of us don’t. But we can all join in the fun Aug. 12–28 when Valley Youth Theatre brings the musical “Grease” to Center Stage at the Herberger Theater.
With book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, “Grease” promises to have audiences rocking in their seats with such hit tunes as “Summer Nights” and “Greased Lightnin.’”
At Rydell High, Class of 1959 bad boy Danny Zuko leads a band of hubcap-stealing greasers in black leather jackets, while girl-next-door Sandy Dumbrowski hangs with the Pink Ladies, a group of sarcastic, gum-chewing girls. The two meet in school after a summer fling, and wonder, will they be able to rekindle their romance?
The show opened off-Broadway Feb. 14, 1972, at the Eden Theatre, then moved to Broadway and ran for 3,388 performances — a record at the time. In 1978 it was made into a surprise hit movie starring Olivia Newton-John as Sandy and John Travolta as Danny.
“The great thing about “Grease” is that it teaches teens that they are not alone in the struggle to find themselves on the journey to adulthood,” says Skye Fallon, VYT’s director of marketing and communications. “Although times are different, it addresses the underlying struggles and emotions that each teen feels trying to fit in.” And, she adds, “It does it in a fun, musical way.”
VYT’s production is directed by Bobb Cooper, the theater’s producing artistic director who is celebrating 20 years at VYT. Liz Grannis, a senior at Xavier College Preparatory, portrays Sandy. She sings with the Brophy Chapel Ensemble, participates in the National Charity League and is a princess performer for Storybook Entertainment. She has landed numerous roles in Valley productions, including Pauline in “West Side Story” and Amy in “They Chose Me” for VYT and Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray” for Greasepaint Youtheatre.
Danny is played by 16-year-old Spencer Claus who attends Scottsdale Basis. Last seen at the Herberger in VYT’s “Into the Woods,” Spencer has previously appeared as Link Larkin in “Hairspray” for Desert Foothills Theater and as Mitch Mahoney in “The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee” for Desert Stages Theatre. He has also been nominated for two 2016 AriZoni Awards: one for his role as Georg in “Spring Awakening” for Spotlight Youth Theatre, and one for hair and makeup design (along with Angel DeMichael) for the same show.
Playing Betty Rizzo, the tough but vulnerable leader of the Pink Ladies, is Carly Makani Copp. The recipient of several AriZoni Awards and NYA Awards, Copp has taken a number of roles in VYT productions, including Potiphar’s wife in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the dragon in “Shrek,” and the witch in “Into the Woods.” She has also appeared as Miss Sandra in “All Shook Up,” Asaka in “Once on This Island,” Diana Morales in “A Chorus Line” and Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun,” all for Spotlight Youth Theatre. She plans to study musical theater this fall at Pace University in New York City.
Perhaps most familiar to Valley audiences as the man who does the weather for FOX 10, Cory McCloskey will be the teen angel in “Grease.” He also played Coach Bolton in VYT’s “High School Musical” and will be seen this December as Scrooge in Hale Centre Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.” In addition, he has performed as a stand-up comic at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy, Tempe Improv, the Comedy Spot and Stand Up Scottsdale. He previously appeared on NBC’s “Another World” and played East Coast stages from New York to Washington.
“Grease” is presented through special arrangement with Samuel French Inc., which recommends the musical for ages 14 and up.
If you go: Aug. 12–28; 7 p.m. Thursdays, 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix. $16.50 and up. 602-252-8497 or herbergertheater.org.