You’re the one that I want – rang out a the YMCA where auditions were taking place for this year’s summer production.
YMCA Productions is presenting the musical Grease and has recruited Scalby School head of drama Chris Taylor to direct. He did no hesitate at the chance.
“Grease is an iconic show which has been loved by millions of people. It is a show which we hope will fill the theatre for the summer and give Scarborough a great show to enjoy through those summer nights. No pun intended,” he said.
First he had to pick a cast of youngsters – and he had dozens to choose from as they pcked the auditorium in St Thomas Street to show him and dance expert Julie Hatton what they could do.
“When casting, you have to look for people who can sing, dance and act; but also do they look the part and is the chemistry right between the performers on the stage,” said Chris whose pedigree is first class.
He has directed the past school productions staged at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. These have included Miss Siagon this year, The Wedding Singer and a still-talked-about Les Miserables in 2011.
“A sense of community and support is key for success but most of all commitment and hard work is essential if you are going to have a hit.
“I think the show is going to be something very special,” he said of Grease.
The key roles are Danny, Kenicke, Sandy and members of he T Birds and Pink Ladies, Mike Seals Law and James Cunningham are switiching the boy’s roles and Sandy will be played by Molly Douthwaite and Leanne Walsh. Mike played Dodger in Scarborough Musicals’ Oliver! at the YMCA last month.
The T Birds are: Roger – Mark Palmer; Sonny – Matthew Widdington / Callum Marshall: Doody - Will Scott / Jake Cooke,
The pink Ladies are: Rizzo - Emily Dodds / Charlotte Timmins: Marty - Mimi Jo Robshaw / Georgia Mason: Jan - Sammi Nyarari: Frenchy - Hannah Walker / Kaya Hutchinson
“We have a range of people playing the leading roles and some characters are played by two different actors.
“We have students from all the schools in Scarborough and also some veteran YMCA performers who are university age,” said Chris.
Helping him get his cast performance ready are Julia Hatton from Hatton’s School of Performing Arts. “I was so lucky to have Julie on board and have been amazed with her work.
Some performers previously had no dance experience but are now working at a high level in a short space of time. In particular the Hand Jive is going to be something fantastic,” said Chris.
The vocal coaching is being done by Jane Daniel and Scarborough-based entertainer James Aconley.
“They are also putting a vast amount of time into the rehearsals and making excellent progress,” he said.
“We have an amazing bunch of young people involved in this show.
“ It is excellent to see them coming from all over the town to join up for one show. The sense of community is fantastic and one of the most exciting parts of working at the YMCA.
“Most of them are rehearsing four nights a week which is a big commitment but they are loving the experience.”
Grease – the story of high school romance between teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks – has been done on stage and, of course, is famous as a film version with John Travolta playing Danny opposite Olivia Newton John as Sandy.
Stockard Channning almost stole the film as the hard-as-nails Rizzo.
As well as You’re the One That I want its other chart-toppers include Hopelessly Devoted to You, Sandra Dee, Grease Lightning and Summer Nights. A couple of the songs were written for the film and a special arrangement has been made to include them in the stage show,
“I think the famous songs and fun characters are the most appealing elements of the show.
“The film was such a massive hit and generation after generation loves to see the show.
“Despite being set so long ago the themes are still relevant today,” said Chris.
For the YMCA, the summer show is a highlight of its year and financially vital.
“We are a registered charity that receives no government funding for the work that we do with young people,” said YMCA executive director Steve Marsh.
“It is absolutely crucial that we sell as many tickets to the show as we possibly can.
“We rely on the income we receive from ticket sales to cover the costs of putting on the show, as well as contributing to the significant costs of running the building.
“I really hope that local people will come and support the show – the cast and crew deserve to perform to full houses every night and audience members will not be disappointed.
“We have a fantastic young cast who have been working extremely hard in rehearsals, and and energetic and experienced production team,” said Steve.