'Grease' is the word at Washington County Playhouse
Jennifer Dickey is finally living out a dream and slipping on the bobby socks of the iconic role of Sandy.
She’ll be “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong” with the rest of the Pink Ladies when she appears in Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children Theater’s production of “Grease.”
The show opens Friday and runs Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, March 2, at the downtown Hagerstown theater, although both shows are sold out this weekend. There is also a matinee at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24.
Dickey, of Mt. Airy, Md., said she was a fan of “Grease” growing up and would often watch it with her mom.
“I even had a Pink Ladies jacket growing up, we still have it in the closet,” she said during a break from rehearsals Tuesday night.
So becoming Sandy for the show’s run is really a little girl’s dream come dream.
“I think she’s one of those roles that all the girls grow up with,” Dickey said. “... She’s just well-known. And I thought she’d be fun. She’s just one those roles that you always want to play.”
Those familiar with the 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John will find some differences in the original 1971 musical stage version of the show. And for an actress, Dickey said she likes that she’s able to explore her character more.
“There are more scenes that sort of show her development,” she said of the stage version. “... This show is more of a character arc of Sandy. You get to see why she feels the way she does about Danny and things like that.”
Dickey said her favorite song/scenes is “Summer Nights” because the scene includes the entire cast. And she said she loves “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” not just because it’s her solo, but “because it’s the song that shows the most emotion, so I get to show a little bit of my acting ability as well.”
And the reason why nearly 50 years later “Grease” continues to be a fan favorite is, Dickey said, because of the storyline.
“Sandy’s feelings for a boy, and that she goes to a new school and wants to fit in with the cool crowd. I think that’s very relevant to how people are nowadays, you want to be part of the in crowd and have the cute boyfriend, “ she said.
Even diehard fans of the “Grease” movie will love the stage production just as much, Dickey said.
“There is more in the musical, some other songs maybe you haven’t heard,” she said. “Our cast is so talented and everyone is working really hard.”
Playing Sonny from the T-Birds is Sam DeJesus of Hagerstown, who is making his debut on the Playhouse stage.
DeJesus calls Sonny “one of the greasiest greasers in the show.” He’s also familiar with the character having played him in middle school.
“I’ll be just as fun, if not more,” he said.
For DeJesus, “Grease” shows “the camaraderie that a group of people can have with each other, and maybe come from different backgrounds. They’re all together in one place and they’ve got each other’s backs. It’s nice to see that. That’s all that everyone wants.”
Although DeJesus does enjoy the “Summer Nights” scene, his favorite is “Grease Lightnin’.”
“I love ‘Greased Lightnin’’ because it’s the boys. And anytime the boys get up on stage, we take it by storm,” he said. “I’ll be a little selfish and say that ‘Greased Lightnin’’ takes that No. 1 spot for me.”
And it’s that fun factor that allows the show to live on.
“Although the topic or scene stays generally the same, the ideas, love, of course — everyone loves love, love is to be loved — it’ll always be pushing out into the future,” he said.
DeJesus said whether it’s the film or onstage, audiences love to watch “Grease.”
“It’s really nice to bring that type of happiness to people,” he said.
What makes this version of “Grease” unusual, DeJesus said, is the Playhouse’s intimate stage.
“The closest audience member is right there. Everything that you’re experiencing — you’re not up in the nosebleeds section up top, ‘Oh I can barely hear them’ — they’re right there you can see them, smell them, hear them. Theater is a lot more is closer emotionally I think when you have a closer physical connection as well.”
Top photo: Cody Parson, left, as Danny and Jennifer Dickey as Sandy star in the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater production of “Grease.” (Photo by Crystal Schelle)