Face it, you've either seen the movie "Grease" or the Broadway show, because it has endured three different lifetimes on the Great White Way. You've found yourself humming "Summer Nights" or "We Go Together," aimlessly and with no cause.
"Grease" is more than just a popular piece of American culture. It's the word.
So when the time came for Weehawken High School to pick a show to perform as its annual musical presentation, there really was no second choice.
"I actually begged [Weehawken music supervisor Steve] Spinosa to do 'Grease,' " said senior Stephanie Orru, who is a veteran of other Weehawken High productions and will portray beauty school dropout Frenchy in the Weehawken production of "Grease."
Weehawken High School's version will be performed Friday and Saturday night, March 31 and April 2, in the school auditorium beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the show are priced at $5 and there is general admission seating.
Orru added, "We all know most of the songs already, so there's no need to learn the music. It's a teenage play and we can all definitely relate to it."
"I've always wanted to do 'Grease,'" said sophomore Vicky Camporeale, who has the female lead of Sandy. "It's a fun show and I always wanted to be Sandy, even though I have short brown hair. I feel like I'm kind of like her, so I'm really familiar with the role. The songs are easy to sing and that makes the whole idea more fun. Instead of breaking our necks learning scripts and songs, we can concentrate on having fun."
Help from Broadway professionals
For the fourth straight year, the direction of the Weehawken High School play will come from theater professionals, courtesy of the Manhattan-based organization Inside Broadway, a group that specifically goes to local high schools.
Braddon Mehrten, a professional actor and director who has been in the theater business for 20 years and had roles in the traveling production of "They're Playing Our Song," was assigned to direct the Weehawken production this year.
Inside Broadway has sent a director and a music director to the school for the last four years to lend a hand.
"I'm totally feeding off the energy of the kids," said Mehrten, who has been working with Inside Broadway for the last five years. "It's a very talented cast, so I've basically butted out and let them have so much fun. It's tough to do a show like 'Grease,' because everyone knows it so well and there are some people who want to see what they've seen before. But these kids have been interesting and putting their own twists on things."
Spinosa remembers "Grease" from when he was a kid.
"It was around our birth," he laughed. "The kids understand the show. They can relate to it. The music is classic. It's a fun show. They're all having a good time. There are also some surprises, because each of the cast members has taken on the personality of the characters they're portraying."
Although the director and music director of the show are professionals, the rest of the backstage crew is comprised of students.
"They did the scenery, the lighting, the props, the artwork," Spinosa said. "They even created a 'Greased Lightning' [car] for the show, and it actually moves."
"Greased Lightning" is song in the show where the guy gang, "The T-Birds," transform an old wreck into a race car.
"Ours doesn't fly like the movie," Spinosa said.
The members of the cast are very excited about the show. Take Gerard Guerrini, who is a Weehawken High junior, but never was part of the productions before. This year, he gets the prize role of Danny Zuko, immortalized on the silver screen by John Travolta.
"I'm basically a rookie," Guerrini said. "I was interested when I heard it was 'Grease.' I went to the tryout and thought I did well [but] thought I had a shot to get the part. I didn't have to work on much, because I knew every line and every song. There are a few people who tell me that I was perfectly cast, because I am Danny. I'm pretty nervous about this, but I'm also excited as well."
Guerrini was asked if he's ready for the challenge of dancing to the "Hand Jive."
"Actually, I'm pretty good at it," Guerrini said. "I like the dancing scenes."
Guerrini has had to juggle baseball practices for the high school varsity, then play rehearsals at night, much like teammate and cast mate Alfonso Gonzalez, who is portraying Kenickie.
"Actually, being in the play takes a whole different type of talent than playing baseball or basketball," said Gonzalez, who was also a standout for the school's basketball team. "I had a lot of fun doing 'Guys and Dolls' last year, so that's why I came back to do it again this year."
He added, "Everyone knows 'Grease.' I've seen the movie 100 times, so we have to put our own twist to it."
Camporeale aspires to become a singer/actress when she graduates high school, so portraying the All-American girl (she won't be Australian in the show like movie queen Olivia Newton John) and goody-goody Sandy is something that Camporeale takes seriously.
"I want to perform," Camporeale said. "I want to do something with music. That's why this is something very serious to me. But I'm having fun as well."
"She is such a good actress and singer," Mehrten said of Camporeale. "She's not the quintessential Sandy, but she totally gets the part."
Other students who have prominent roles in the production include Tony Cimino (Sonny), David Rivas (Roger), Joseph Cimino (Doody), Gina Chedid (Marty), Tanvee Trejhan (Jan), Nora Giannini (Rizzo) Alyssa Condello (Patty Simcox) and Nick Grassi (Eugene).
"It's a good show to do for students, because you basically have five pairs of characters, boys and girls," Mehrten said. "Each of the characters is well developed and different. It really was easy to cast. All they have to do is say their lines and belt out the songs."
Can't you hear them now? "Oh, Sandy, baby, some day, when high-yigh school is done...." Grease is truly the word.
The Weehawken High School production of "Grease" will be performed on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 at the high school auditorium, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available at the high school or at the door, but seating is general admission, so fans are encouraged to arrive early for better seating.