Backstage with cast and crew of Scarborough production of Grease

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There’s an hour to go before curtain up. Behind the scenes, a stage hand sweeps up hair-pins and other debris while the props crew check everything is ready for the first scene.

The dressing room is a hive of activity. Costume and make-up staff, armed with dress pins and cans of hairspray, get the stars ready.

Grease cast and crew

Grease cast and crew

It’s the stars of the show who take the applause and curtain call – but behind every successful show there’s a hardworking crew.

This is the case with Grease which is running at the YMCA, Scarborough. The principal roles have been shared to give more people a chance to play the leads – like Mike Seals-Law and James Cunningham both had a turn as Danny, Leanne-May Walsh and Molly Douthwaite shared the role of Sandy.

But the lighting, sound, costumes and stage crew are as vital to making the musical a hit as the performers.

“One of the things I’m most pleased about is the transition between scenes,” said Chris Taylor, “It is a fast moving show and it is essential the scene-changes are slick.

“The stage crew work well together to ensure that happens,” he said. “If the show stops even for a second the audience gets bored and loses interest.”

From front of house and programme sellers to sound control and follow spot operators, most of those working on the show are volunteers.

Theatre manager Graham Ibbotson has designed lighting and the set but he has been helped by volunteers including Liam Downey and Chris Bullivant – who is also stage manager. Costume maker Wendy Chapman has a team of three.

Help has also come from outside including Scarborough-based production company Qdos Entertainment.

Choreography has been done by performance academy prinicpal Julie Hatton. “The progress the performers have made under her guidance makes me extremely proud,” said Chris.

“All those involved have a vital part to play in making the show successful,” said Chris.

And Grease has been a hit – with packed houses and some near sell-outs. This is especially gratifying for Chris as this is his last show before he leaves Scarborough to take up a new teaching role in Sheffield.

Chris was head of drama at Scalby School. He and his young casts staged sell-out runs of Les Miserables, The Wedding Singer and Miss Saigon at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the town.

“It was an honour to be asked to produce Grease,” he said, “and it has been a different experience to what I am used to, having previously been involved in only school productions.”

“The most exciting element is seeing people from across Scarborough come together to work on one project. It has been a massive undertaking but everyone has looked to support one another and they have had a great time putting the show together,” he said.

Grease is a musical centred round a teenage romance between good girl Sandy and bad boy Danny set in Rydell High School. Hit songs from the show include Grease Lightning, You’re the One That I Want, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Beauty School Dropout and There are Worse Things I Could Do.

Grease is on at the YMCA, St Thomas Street, Scarborough, on Thursday August 22 and from Monday August 26 to Thursday August 29. Performances at 7.30pm.

Tickets are availabe in person from the YMCA box office or on Scarborough (01723) 506750