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Together on stage: Pace and Milton High Schools perform GREASE

Editor's note: Parents, please be reminded that GREASE is a PG production and may have content not suitable for children.

Two long-time rivals are joining their creative energies to stage a production of the musical “Grease.”

Milton and Pace High School Theater Departments have been collaborating since January on the presentation.  The cast is comprised, through blind auditions, of 14 members from Milton and 14 members from Pace.

The presentation is based on the original Broadway play and a lot of the songs are recognizable to anyone familiar with the popular movie. Though, in the stage version, there are a few surprises John Travolta forgot.

"It's very different than the film," said Valerie Wright, theater director at Pace. “There's a lot of songs that were cut from the movie. There's new songs and there's new dialogue as well.”

The premise of the story is a tale of two lovers from different worlds. On one side, there's Danny Zuko – a greaser with a rock 'n' roll attitude. Watching from a cautious distance is Sandy – a good-girl with a torn heart who gets swept into a "dangerous" lifestyle.

Zuko, leader of the hot-rod driving gang, the T-Birds, will be played by Milton senior Shane Howell. Olsen, the reluctant good-girl, will be played by Pace senior Mallory Kennedy.

The young thespians said they were surprised when the selection was announced. The students thought they would never perform Grease, Wright said.

"It's such an iconic show," Wright said. "It's a very scary thing to go and do a show that everyone knows. The expectations are so high."

This is the fourth presentation the two schools have done together as a group. The directors said they realized if Pace and Milton High Schools combined their resources, the students would benefit from the ability to run productions that would have otherwise been too costly to attain.

“Pace doesn't have a large auditorium, and it's very expensive to put on a musical,” said Jennifer Bunnell, theater director at Milton. “There's a lot of cost in the rights and royalties for the production.”

Students benefit from more than a larger budget. The challenge and complexity of working with two directors with different attitudes and styles tends to be beneficial to the learning process, Bunnell said. The variety of personalities and changing direction prepares students for the college atmosphere.

"This has probably been the smoothest process," Bunnell said. "There haven't been any problems."

Directors say the students have grown close while working together on the play. But it's not just the students who have developed a working relationship.

"For me, it's great to get the chance to work with kids from Pace," Bunnell said. "When the show ends, I won't have the chance to see them anymore on a daily basis. I enjoy knowing them and working with them."

This article originally appeared on Santa Rosa Press Gazette: Together on stage: Pace and Milton High Schools perform GREASE

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