RACINE — “Grease” brings an electrifying energy to the stage through unforgettable songs July 19-28 at the Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Ave.
Danny and Sandy had a secret summer romance, but back at school, everything is different. Their friends sing and dance their way through hit songs such as “Greased Lightnin’” and “Born to Hand-Jive” as the couple tries to rekindle those “Summer Nights.”
For mother-daughter team, Lisa and Rosey Robinson, “Grease” has offered them more than they ever expected on and off stage.
Lisa stumbled into volunteering at RTG during “9 to 5” at the end of last season. She quickly fell in love with the Guild and was soon asked to design props for “Grease.”
“I’m really so impressed with it here,” Lisa shared. “I’ve never been in a place where I’ve felt so much like family and that’s what so amazing about the Guild. I’ve been so welcomed and so loved and it just felt like this was home.”
As Rosey was finishing up her freshman year at Carthage College as a theater performance major, Lisa was looking for a chance to spend time with her this summer and encouraged her to audition for “Grease.”
“I hadn’t done a musical in a while, so I figured might as well just get back into that,” Rosey said.
Rosey was soon cast as Rizzo and began working on her character development.
“Rizzo is such an iconic character that it almost felt like there wasn’t too many places I could take it,” Rosey explained. “As I delved further into the script and rehearsal, I realized there’s a lot more depth and layers that I can add that make her more dimensional.”
“She’s a teenage girl who’s going through a lot and tries to be tough, but deep down really wants to be loved by people. She’s a very touching character and she’s been super fun to play.”
Lisa’s job of designing props has also lead to new discoveries. Through years of other theater experiences, she has developed a system to manage the multiple pieces needed.
“A lot of my process is just interviewing the director to find out what they want,” Lisa stated. “We go page by page through all my notes and I make sure I know size, shape, color — every little detail that I could possibly squeeze out of them.”
“I like making things and I have software programs that help me create different magazines, cigarette boxes and textbook covers for the time period. I really love doing little details, even though they won’t be seen by the audience. But it makes such a difference to the actors when they have a good prop.”
For audience members familiar with the 1978 “Grease” movie, the stage version will bring some new elements to the story.
“It’s not exactly like the movie, but there are still all the iconic songs that they can expect,” Rosey said. “There are some really sweet and funny moments. Also a whole bunch of energy from a whole bunch of young people who love theater and who love each other.”
Throughout the rehearsal process, Rosey has come to love being at the Theatre Guild just as much as her mom.
“I instantly bonded so much with all my Pink Ladies and all my Burger Boys,” Rosey shared. “Everyone was so welcoming and just so nice to me. We don’t have to pretend to like each other on stage because we’re just genuinely having fun with each other.”
“It makes mama’s heart glad,” Lisa added.
Sandy (Sophia Karrageannes) and Danny (Jack Black) are joined by their friends in this iconic musical. The girls, Rizzo (Rosey Robinson), Jan (Carlyn Rabe), Marty (Meghan Flynn) and Frenchy (Jenna Zeihen), mix with the guys, Kenickie (Hunter D’Acquisto), Roger (Jared Simonsen), Sonny (Matt Przybylski) and Dooby (Andrew Dorst), plus their classmates Patty Simcox (Rayven Craft) and Eugene Florczyk (Evan Klinkhammer).
With guidance from Miss Lynch (Barbi McGuire) and Teen Angel (Jacob Fenkl), plus appearances by Cha-Cha Digregorio (Anisa Diaz), Johnny Casino (Connor Benson) and Vince Fontaine (Doug Despin), the show is full of energy. Other cast and ensemble members featured include Dawn Burroughs, Chazmire Carothers, Ella Cimbalnik, Juliana Garcia-Malacara, Lorenc Gasparov, Geneva Hebron, Rowan Mlot, Johanna Nimmer, Jack Scharff, Marcus Sorenson and Katherine Zielsdorf.
Directed by Douglas Instenes, with music direction by Rob Kroes and choreography by Kara Ernst-Schalk, the show is supported by a crew of customers, set builders, technicians and production members.
Performances take place at 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 62 and older and $15 for students 21 and younger. Further savings are offered to groups of 12 or more. Some adult themes may not be suitable for younger patrons.
Tickets can be purchased at the Theatre Guild from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays, by calling 262-633-4218 or go to www.racinetheatre.org.