It’s time to grab your leather jackets, put on your poodle skirts and blend in with the greasers at Ryder High as Grease –The Musical hits the stage. Presented by Cold Theatre 7 and directed by Kevin Cruze, the musical will be at the Lionel Wendt from August 1 to 4 at 7.30 p.m, with [...]


Grease – The Musical has it all

With its catchy tunes and story line, the cast of Cold Theatre 7’s production is ready to rock Colombo from August 1 to 4

It’s time to grab your leather jackets, put on your poodle skirts and blend in with the greasers at Ryder High as Grease –The Musical hits the stage. Presented by Cold Theatre 7 and directed by Kevin Cruze, the musical will be at the Lionel Wendt from August 1 to 4 at 7.30 p.m, with matinee shows at 3 p.m. on August 3 and 4.

The cast ready to deliver a non-stop joyride of music and entertainment. Pix by Priyantha Wickramaarachchi

To all those familiar with ‘Grease’ the movie, chances are a hunky John Travolta and a wide-eyed Olivia Newton-John will come to mind, along with the iconic songs and the greaser aesthetic.

The musical, however, promises to be just a little different from the movie and if anything, more exciting, with fast-paced music featuring a live band directed by musical director Nishantha Warnakulasuriya and intense choreography by Umeshi Rajeendra that made dancers of them all. The musical will have two casts. Each of them has their different ways of performing each night.

Along the corridor of the Lionel Wendt we meet Geethika Cooray who will be portraying Danny Zuko, and Trudy Herft who plays Sandra “Sandy” Dombrowski. Geethika’s greased hair and the leather jacket slung over his shoulder make him instantly recognisable as a greaser.

“We’re celebrating our teenage lives all over again,” says Trudy. Though it’s hard to live up to the standards of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, “we’re really really trying to.”

She feels the musical is much better than the movie – there’s a good balance between the music, the humour and the themes.

What’s special about the story is that it’s not only about the two main characters. It’s not just about love. It’s about everything happening in Ryder High – the rebellions and the teenage drama, Geethika says. There are several interesting themes, peer pressure, bullying, teen pregnancy, and more. “So what I think Kevin is trying to do is spend some time exploring these themes as well.”

Geethika and Trudy

Geethika plays Danny who comes from a typical middle-class Italian American background. He and his best friend Kenickie grew up together, and are part of the clique of greasers called the T-Birds. Danny is quite popular amongst the ladies of the “fast and racy” type. This all changes when he goes on a summer break to the beach, and meets this “typical pretty, goody-two-shoes girl who he ends up falling in love with,” and starts the internal conflict that frames his story in the musical.

“I’m Ms Goody-two-shoes, Sandra “Sandy” Dombrowski,” Trudy jumps in. Sandy has just transferred to Ryder High from Australia, and faces a complete culture shock. “Everyone’s in their shorts and tank tops and in comparison, I’m ordinary,” she says, adding “ blonde and beautiful” whilst Geethika chuckles.

Sandy struggles trying to fit in. The few people who try to help are the ‘Pink Ladies’, the female equivalent to the T-Birds. But at the end of the day, Sandy simply has to be true to herself, while also loosening up.

We then run into some of the Pink Ladies – Vinuri Weerawardena who portrays Betty Rizzo and Andrea Melisa, who plays Marty. Vinuri tells us that Rizzo considers herself the leader of the group.

“There may be reservations, but let’s not talk about that!”

Vinuri is loyal to the movie in her portrayal. She has always loved Stockard Channing (who plays Rizzo in the 1978 movie) and the emotion she brings to the role. But she will be doing a variation of that Rizzo, with a little more playfulness.

Wayne and Kavindu

Both Andrea and Vinuri find it easy to get into their roles, even when they’re not on stage. “When we’re told to go outside and practise, we take about five minutes to gossip about something,” Vinuri shares. Andrea isn’t sure if it’s the character or the role taking over. “But it actually feels like we are the Pink Ladies. We hang out outside of practices. That friendship factor helps.”

We meet the Kenickies, just as Andrea and Vinuri go back to their practice. Wayne White and Kovindu De Seram true to their characters play it cool.

Kovindu explains the greaser culture in the US at the time. “We’re kind of the ideal specimen, the template for the ideal greaser,” he adds. Both he and Wayne also maintain that another factor to be cool is that you just don’t care.

“Kenickie is very comfortable in his own skin, he knows what he is and what he’s capable of. He’s one guy who’s got a plan and to some degree at the end of the whole thing, he gets what he wants,” Wayne says.

Though they portray the same character, the pair however are two different personalities. “He’s definitely a bit more chill on stage than I am. I’m a bit more of a livewire,” Wayne quips. They both put in a lot of heart on stage. “We, the Kenickies, hope that we will be able to convert you and have you believe in the Greased Lightning!” Kovindu grins.

In a cameo appearance, Danu Innasithamby plays Teen Angel, a mystical figure who descends to solve a problem when needed with as much sarcasm as he could. “I’m literally like a reality check that’s kind of fantasy, and in the crudest manner but with a pleasant outlook to life. It’s like salt in dates,” he tells us.

Andrea and Vinuri

Hard work and commitment have been a constant at the ‘Grease’ rehearsals. The cast began practices around late January and though the Easter bombings saw a break, they continued. Coming for practices during the troubled times was a mode of escape. “There were times when there were curfews at nine. But, we still came for practices just for that one hour or 45 minutes,” Trudy recalls.

A non-stop joyride of music, entertainment, delivered with a lot of feeling, Grease — The Musical looks to ensure that it won’t be the same show twice – perfect for anyone wanting to catch multiple performances.

Tickets for the show are available at the Lionel Wendt Theatre and at Rs. 5000, Rs. 4000, Rs. 3500, Rs. 3000 with Rs. 900 for balcony for the 7.30p.m. shows. The 3 p.m. shows are priced at Rs. 4000, Rs. 3000, Rs. 2000, Rs. 1500 with Rs. 900 for balcony.

The cast
Danny Zuko – Julian Anderson, Geethika Cooray
Sandy Dubrowski – Daniella Perera, Trudy Herft
Kenickie – Wayne White, Kovindu de Seram
Betty Rizzo – Agalya Kotigala, Vinuri Weerawardene
Sonny – Devinda De Silva, Shakib Hisham
Marty – Nimansa Thalduwa, Andrea Melisa
Roger – Thilina Udayaratne, Aushadie Wickramasinghe
Jan – Lozaine Pereira, Ruwandi Perera
Doody – Leeth Singhage, Isira Edussuriya
Frenchy – Chantal Dassanayake, Shenelle Perera
Patty – Kimaya Gunatilaka, Tayhani Kannangara
Eugene – Zaahid Aman
Ms. Lynch – Dhara Gunawardene


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