A spectacular new take on beloved show

The Taieri Musical Theatre Company performs Grease: The Arena Spectacular. Photo: Chris Sullivan, Scene in Dunedin

IT’S electrifying! Grease is coming back to Invercargill, and this year it will be bigger than ever.

Grease: The Arena Spectacular will be performed at ILT Stadium Southland on September 13-15.

Invercargill Musical Theatre (IMT) vice-president Bernadette Gourley said the majority of the show had been cast, with multi-talented young entertainer Kayla Wilcox as Sandy.

Joining her as the Pink Ladies are Ashleigh Reid (Rizzo), Sophie Worner (Jan), Madison Brown (Marty) and Aleisha Kennard (Frenchy) and the T-Birds – Tim Lindsay (Kenickie), Sam Cullen (Doody), Nepia Ruwhiu (Roger) and Kyle Hart (Sonny).

“It’s a great cast, they are talented performers.”

Gourley said they aimed to cast performers aged between 16 and 35 years because of the high school setting.

“We want an authentic look and energy,” she said.

“We’ve managed to do it and we’re delighted about that.”

Gourley said there were two roles still to confirm – lead male Danny Zuko and the Teen Angel.

However, she said once the Teen Angel was announced it would be a very big drawcard for the public.

Steve Broad, who played Danny in IMT’s 2013 production, will be back this year as Vince Fontaine.

The 2013 production was a great success for IMT, she said, and was one of its biggest-selling shows.

“We would love the same audiences back this year,” she said.

“It’s the same story, music and characters but performed in a fresh and very exciting way.”

It was also poignant to be performing the show this year because the film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John celebrated its 40th anniversary last month, she said.

“It’s one of those universally popular shows.”

Gourley said they were excited to get the opportunity to do an arena show, as it would be something new for IMT.

Instead of performing straight ahead to the audience in a traditional theatre setting, the cast will be performing to three sides for the arena show.

The audience will surround the stage, with the fourth side of the arena being a catwalk runway featuring the 11-piece live band. The chorus will also be either side of the catwalk in full costume.

“That’s going to produce an awesome sound.”

Gourley said props for the show would include everything you’d expect to see in Grease, including a car. They would also have LED screens to set the scenes and some surprise special effects.

“The way it works from a backstage point of view is quite different, because essentially there is no backstage area.

“There’s a great deal of work to do technically to produce the whole lighting, sound, visual spectacular, but we have a great team in place that will create that.”

She said they were also enjoying working with the stadium staff on the production, and Doug Kamo (director), Emma Holloway (choreographer) who will reprise their roles from the Taieri Musical Theatre Company’s 2016 production.

Although IMT had planned to perform Priscilla, Queen of the Desertthis year, Gourley said the executive had decided to go in a different direction for a number of reasons.

She said they felt they would struggle to cast it locally and it was an expensive show to produce.

“It’s really important to us that IMT productions showcase local talent.

“There was no doubt that people would have loved Priscilla, it just wasn’t the right time for us to do it.

“We were disappointed that we had to make the decision, but we’re happy with [Grease].”

Tickets are on sale now from ILT Stadium Southland and TicketDirect.

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