David Roth and Kerry Long love “Grease.”
The Staples Players directors watch the movie often. Their high school students do too.
It evokes not just nostalgia for the 1950s — its setting — but for the 1970s too, when the classic movie was made.
The music, theme and ensemble casting make it the perfect vehicle for Players’ return to the stage. “Grease” marks the troupe’s first major mainstage show since COVID struck, just hours before the opening night of “Seussical” in March 2020.
The curtain rises this week. Roth says his actors are excited for the show — and so is the town.
“Everyone knows ‘Grease,'” Roth says. Some remember the original Broadway production; many more know the movie that followed.
But — as always — Players puts their own spin on it.
“A lot of people think it’s about a girl who has to make herself look sexy, to be attractive to a boy,” Roth says. “But we delved into the history. Who were the greasers and the Pink Ladies in the ’50s? They were the forerunners of people who fought for women’s rights.”
In 1959, he says, America was “the era of ‘Father Knows Best’ and ‘Leave it to Beaver.’ The traditional American home was expected to have the wife stay home looking pretty, wearing an apron while preparing a meal for her husband and children.”
However, he adds, “We feel that the greasers and, more importantly, the Pink Ladies are rebelling against this traditional mold of femininity.
“Our actors understand: Sandy doesn’t randomly end up with these people. She chooses Danny and the Pink Ladies. Somehow she finds her people, and becomes true to herself.”
The production is “really fun. It’s got all the singing and dancing everyone loves. It’s definitely PG,”: although it is not “squeaky clean.” With a large ensemble cast, many actors get a chance to shine.
Despite the allure of “Grease,” Roth and Long were not sure if audiences would embrace a return to indoor theater.
They have. Ticket sales are brisk. The shared experience of sitting in the theater, knowing the words to every song, is alluring.
“People are anxious to get back to the real world,” Roth says.
Whether that’s the world of 2021, or the 1950s.
(“Grease” will be performed on Friday and Saturday, November 12, 13, 19 and 20, at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are set for Sunday, November 14 and Saturday, November 20 at 3 p.m.. Tickets may be purchased online here, or in the lobby 30 minutes prior to the show, if available. All audiences must provide proof of vaccine [a photo is fine] or proof of a negative COVID test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the show. Arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime. Masks must be worn at all times.)