Audiences ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ to Pearl River’s production of Grease

April 18, 2024

Pearl River Community College’s Brownstone Center for the Arts was transported back to 1959 with the production of “Grease.” Hundreds of community members, family, and friends attended the three performances, filled with familiar tunes and dance moves reminiscent of days gone by.  

“You’re the One that I Want”

The audience quickly meets the T-Birds and Pink Ladies, two groups of students attending Rydell High. On the first day of school, the new girl, Sandy (played by Lila Reed), shares her experience at the beach that summer. She soon learns that the object of her affection, Danny Zuko (played by Garret Rester), attends Rydell High, too. Only, he acts too cool for her after they are reunited.  

Sandy (played by Lila Reed), shares a moment with the object of her affection, Danny Zuko (played by Garret Rester).

The rest of the play walks through different moments of their senior year, with couples forming between the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Kenickie (played by Jonathan Freeman) and Betty Rizzo (played by Madison Mims) experience a tumultuous relationship with a little scare thrown in as graduation looms. After lots of singing and dancing through the pitfalls of life, Sandy embraces the need to change and wows Danny.  

Betty Rizzo (played by Madison Mims) sings the iconic song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”

Iconic numbers performed during the production included “Summer Nights” ,“Greased Lightnin’”,“Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”, “We Go Together”, “Born to Hand-Jive”, “Hopelessly Devoted”, “Beauty School Dropout”, and “You’re the One that I Want.” A convertible on a dolly provided a tangible representation of the fixer-upper vehicle Kenickie procures.  

Kenickie and the guys since “Greased Lightnin'”

PRCC Director of Theatre Cory Squires directed the musical. Live music provided the backdrop for the many musical numbers, with seven musicians seated in the orchestra pit under the direction of Dr. LaDona Tyson. The choreography was a team effort by Katie Standford, Devin Jones, and Ruthie Ramsey. The PRCC Cosmetology department provided hair and makeup services. 

“Born to Hand-Jive”

“I couldn’t be prouder of our Grease cast and crew,” said Squires. “Their dedication and talent brought Rydell High to life in ways that exceeded my expectations. Everyone poured their heart and soul into this production.” 

Cast of Grease Saturday, April 13, 2024.

Teresa Barry of Poplarville attended the Saturday matinee performance with her mother, Susan Fuller, also of Poplarville. They both adore theatrical performances and used to be part of the local community theater. While they had not seen Grease on stage, they had watched the 1978 movie version.  

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Barry. “You could tell that they put in a lot of hard work and effort, and they really enjoyed what they did. That came through to us as the audience and they really had a good time.” 

Teen Angel (played by Evan Fairchild) sings “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchy (played by Madalin Biesesi).

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in 1970, Grease blends teenage angst with musical numbers reminiscent of the late 1950s. Jacobs had been a guitar-playing ‘greaser’ student at Taft High School in Chicago. Casey spent the late 1950s as an art teacher in upstate New York who then shifted gears to become an actor and musician. The men met while acting with the Chicago Stage Guild. Their experiences inspired the musical, where greasers and girls in poodle skirts navigate the many challenges of high school life.   

Spring Pops will feature Jazz Cats, The Voices, Currents, and Rapids on Tuesday, April 21st at 7 p.m. in the Brownstone Center for the Arts this month. 

Tickets are $7 each with seats assigned at the time of purchase. They are available for advance purchase at or at the door the night of the performance. 

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Article and photography by Laura O’Neill.

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