GREASE IS THE WORD – AND THE MUSIC
With the opening night of the almost-legendary pop-rock musical Grease now just days away, East Gippsland audiences are storming the box office – and the show’s producers couldn’t be happier.
Bairnsdale Production Line Theatre Co has an enviable record for delivering high-quality entertainment, and for pulling huge crowds, but 2022 may well be one of the biggest years in their 22-year history.
“We knew Grease would be a winner with audiences”, said Production Line President Rick Edney, but even so, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response at the box office – solid bookings for every one of our ten scheduled shows”.
It’s been all systems go at the Forge Theatre since last weekend, when the Grease company moved their sets and rehearsals into the theatre for what’s known in the business as ‘Hell Week’, the final few frantic days before opening night, with technicians working out lighting effects, cast and musicians polishing complex song & dance routines, and backstage crew juggling the enormous moveable pieces of the set, to ensure the show glides smoothly from start to finish.
“It’s a huge job”, says Stage Manager Susan Gibson, “and we always find ourselves asking how on earth we’re going to make it all happen - but it always does happen, and our audiences always go away smiling and singing the praises of the entire team”.
Production Line may be a community theatre group, but it has earned itself an enviable reputation over the years for presenting plays and musicals that have been favourably compared with bigger and resource-rich metropolitan-based companies – and even professional companies.
This Friday, audience members will be treated to opening night drinks and nibbles before the curtain goes up at 7:30, and will kick off a ten-show season of Grease that easily eclipses any other company that visits the Forge Theatre. And that’s only one of three major productions scheduled this year.
“We’re an important part of the character and lifestyle of East Gippsland”, said Mr Edney, “and we take enormous pride in the ownership that many people feel towards Production Line, its on- and off-stage performers, production teams, management, and the literally hundreds of local people who keep it rolling along like a well-oiled machine. Or should I say, well-Greased?”
Grease needs no introduction to audiences – as the runaway bookings demonstrate. The bouncy 50s-style pop and rock music is well-known to anyone with even a passing interest in popular culture, and it’s now finding a new audience among teens and 20-somethings – quite a few of whom will be appearing in the nearly 30 on-stage roles, or singing in the unseen but essential ‘pit choir’.
“It’s great to stand in the wings every night and watch these young artists, setting out on a lifetime of performance”, said Ms Gibson. “They are the future of community theatre, and looking at Grease, the future is in safe hands”.
The curtain will rise on Grease this Friday, May 6th, with a total of ten performances until Sunday, May 22nd. Tickets are available, via the Forge Theatre website.