Authentic Community Theater stages the iconic musical 'Grease'
Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski go to together like “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.”
And the two lovebirds will be together again when Authentic Community Theater stages its production of the much-loved musical, “Grease.” The show will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20, at The Maryland Theater in downtown Hagerstown.
ACT’s production is based on the original 1971 musical of the same name, that was adapted to film in 1978 with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
But behind the fantastic and iconic dance numbers, those playing Danny and Sandy, the message is really about how you have to accept yourself in order to truly love someone else.
Alicia Stough of Chambersburg, Pa. plays Sandy, the new arrival to Rydell High. She was last seen in 2014 with ACT in the show “Annie,” so when she was looking at a way to get back into theater, Stough said she didn’t really have any part in mind.
“It was something I love to do,” she said. “I didn’t care what part I had, I just really wanted to be part of something.”
Stough, 29, said she wanted to take her own approach to playing Sandy.
“I’ve seen Sandy played different ways. I appreciate the innocence but at the same time she stands her ground and she knows what she wants,” she said. “And in our production, we’re really playing off of that with Sandy being a lot stronger than like in the movie, she can be a little mopey. I appreciate that in this production that we’re showing a stronger Sandy.”
Through most of the musical, Stough said Sandy and Danny fight until the end, which isn’t a great reflection of a relationship.
“I think it really replicates what a lot of teenage relationships are, we’re playing 17- and 18-year-olds,” she said. “So as they’re trying to figure out who they are and just being comfortable with themselves until they work together toward the end to be comfortable in their own skin and their own relationship.”
When Sandy finally finds her true self, Stough said she sings those feelings in “All Choked Up.” That’s when Sandy changes her persona.
“She shows that tougher side. You see glimpses of Sandy’s toughness side; she’s kind of battling that throughout the entire show and she really wants to show that side of her,” Stough explained. “And ‘All Choked Up’ is that turning point and really shows who she really is.”
Dustin Perrott, 29, of Hagerstown plays T-Bird leader Danny. He said he’s familiar with the show because in 2006 he played Doody in a Washington County Playhouse production.
Perrott said he’s excited to perform for the first time with Authentic Community Theater.
“The way they dig deep in character analysis and how they spend time perfecting songs and making sure everything we do on stage is with a purpose,” he said. “I was really excited to be a part of it.”
When it comes to Danny, Perrott said he likes how his character has more depth than those in many other musicals.
“I like the fact, he’s not a one-trick pony. With a lot of musicals, maybe you have a guy who’s really singer-centric or he’s really dancer-centric or actor-centric,” he said. “I like the opportunity to show off all those things for in one character. And Danny, of course, is such an iconic role, if you get an opportunity to try out for it, you really show.”
Perrott agreed with Stough on the relationship the high school lovers have.
“They almost have a stereotypical high school relationship where neither have themselves figured out, let alone enough figured out how to be in a healthy relationship,” he said. “Danny cares way too much about what his friends think, so he tries to portray himself a little more macho than he really is. He’s a lot more sentimental with Sandy when he’s alone with her, but around his guy friends he tries to play off that he’s tough or doesn’t care about her as much as he really does, and that’s what creates most of the drama and friction around them.”
When he approached the role, Perrott said he wanted to make sure that it was “very obvious that he’s conflicted. He wants to show Sandy that he really cares, and he wishes he wasn’t so influenced by what his friends thought. But he can’t get out of that mindset that ‘these are my friends and I care too much about what they think to be true to myself and true to the person I care about.”
That’s why “All Choked Up” is such an important song for the couple.
“Danny has got comfortable in his own skin and he’s not as influenced by what the T-Birds have to say and he’s willing to let everything out in this song and how he feels about Sandy,” he said. “And she, in turn, does the same thing shedding off her meeker side to show off a stronger Sandy that we all kind of see hints of throughout the show, but we really see it in that song.”
Stough said she’s hoping that the audience will see a deeper side of the character.
“I’m hoping that they appreciate the differences and that it’s not exactly how they’ve seen it in the movie,” she said. “And that they’ll appreciate that we’ll go a lot more in-depth with some of the characters and that you get to know them better on a personal level. You get to know where they come from.”
Top photo: From left, Mae Weisenmiller, Alicia Stough and Savannah Saunders rehearse for ACT's production of "Grease," while fellow Pink Ladies look on. (Photo by Crystal Schelle)