Fat Comes To Howick College



Tevita Sila and Addison Tuineau (center) do the Hand Jive with members of the cast. Photos Alex Clark, Isabella Hindson

By Vanessa Pickett

All of our favorite characters from the 1978 hit film Grease were alive and well swinging at Howick College on Tuesday, May 29, as the opening night audience was transported back to 1959 at Rydell High where slicked back hair, socks and malt houses are cool.

This year’s production was split into two actors who performed in front of audiences at alternate parties. Directed by Jillian Dryden, principal of Howick College Expressive Arts, the stage version written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in 1971, differs slightly from the film but does not lose any of its vibrancy and energy.

The fragile romance between T-Birds frontman Danny Zuko and new school girl Sandy Dumbrowski is still at the heart of the story.

Tevita Sila, who plays Danny in both actors, exudes a laid back charm as he struts and struts across the stage. Sila shines on the dance floor alongside her partner Cha Cha, played by Addison Tuineau, as they give an exhilarating performance of “Born to Hand Jive”. All credit goes to dance teacher Rachel Atkinson, assisted by dance student Juliet Curwood, whose choreography throughout the show is a visual delight.

Hannah Milo is convincing as the naive rich little girl Sandy and always delivers a professional performance. Her compelling cover of “Sandra Dee,” before rushing off to transform into a high-heeled, leather-clad version of herself, is a real goosebumps moment.

This confident new Sandy inevitably wins back Danny, who has undergone his own transformation in the name of love. Both actors deliver solid vocal performances in “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want” and are accompanied throughout the show by the talented eight-piece group, led by conductor Matthew O ‘ Ryan and the exuberant cast of the ensemble.

But it’s not all light fun, it’s ultimately a story about teenagers confronted with the realities of peer pressure, self-discovery and sexuality; themes that are still relevant today. This is underlined by Rizzo, the intelligent, worldly but cynical leader of the Pink Ladies.

Portrayed by Lily Moore, Rizzo doesn’t have time for Sandy and openly challenges her conformance to gender norms. Dismissing Sandy’s pity for her alleged pregnancy in a powerful and poignant rendition of “There are worse things I could do,” Rizzo is comfortable with who she is in the world.

The stage version not only includes additional songs, it also allows audiences to identify more closely with the supporting characters, providing priceless moments. The thriving relationship between the mischievous Greaser Roger (a character from the movie) played by Noah San Jose, and the ditzy Pink Lady Jan, played by Katy Gribble, is pure comedy and San Jose’s interpretation of “Mooning” is a crack-up (pun intended).

The aspiring esthetician Frenchie, played by Kenjiah Weir, is a delight and the dream streak with her Teen Angel, performed by a suave and glittering Max Hill singing “Beauty School Drop Out” was a favorite of the show.

Billie Lawson, perfectly portrayed as the sophisticated opportunist Marty, delivers a suitably ironic “Freddy My Love” while “Greased Lightening”, played by Josh Andrews as Kenickie, and the T-Birds played by Ethan Chadwick and Kelle Dawson , had the lips of the public. -synchronize the words and jump into their seats.

All marks go to Finn O’Sullivan whose performance as gullible nerd Eugene was the perfect blend of comedy and pathos and Stefan Meadows-Allan who played sweet but sleazy disc jockey Vince Fontaine.

This highly satisfying college production, skillfully put together by production managers Debbie Szopa and Robert Douglas, sold out over six performances, proving that 50 years later, Grease is still the word!



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