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Grease: It’s Electrifyin’ at Windermere School

As the Autumn term draws to a close at Windermere School, so the curtain comes down on another spectacular school production. This year, Crampton Hall was transformed into Rydell High School, as a cast of around fifty students took to the stage to put on an electrifyin’ performance of one of the best-known musicals of all time, Grease.

Based on the book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease is a rock’n’roll celebration of the trials and tribulations of teenage life in 1950’s America. It follows the story of leather clad heartthrob, Danny Zuko, and good-natured Sandy, who, after a whirlwind holiday romance, are unexpectedly reunited at Rydell High School.

Pupils from Years 7 to 13 put in months of hard work and dedication, both on stage and behind the scenes, and it certainly paid off. From the minute the curtain came up, the audience was hopelessly devoted to this high energy performance, complete with its expertly choreographed dance routines, hugely popular songs and elaborate set design. In fact, the attention to detail was so elaborate that it included a 1955 split-screen Morris Minor, painstakingly converted into ‘Greased Lightnin’, a 1950’s hotrod, by Paul Bromley, Head of Economics and Business Studies at Windermere School.

Janet McCallum Hartley, Musical Director and Head of Music at Windermere School, says; “There has been a palpable frisson of excitement around the school since we first decided we were going to put on Grease. The enthusiasm within the school community has been infectious – the cast and crew have been a total delight to work with. To see how so many people have come together to bring this show to life is nothing short of amazing – we are lucky to have such a fabulously talented team. What a performance!”

The cast was ably led by Isaac Hartley and Isla Hamilton who played the roles of Danny Zuko and Sandy. Isaac was a cheeky, confident Danny whose acting and musical range throughout the performance was phenomenal. Isla came across as the perfectly lovely, girl-next-door Sandy we are all familiar with, and the chemistry between them was effortless. Archie Dalzell, who played Kenickie, Danny’s loyal best friend, was impressive in all his scenes, while Rosie Salisbury portrayed the proud, sassy and tough Rizzo, leader of the Pink Ladies, with real flair.

It certainly helped that this year’s cast had some extra dance inspiration, as they were lucky enough to be guided by Ash Johnson, a professional choreographer, something which was apparent from the very first lines of the opening song, Grease is the Word.

Says Director and Head of Performing Arts, Rebecca Hurstwaite; “What an amazing experience for our students to be able to work with a professional choreographer – we thank him for all his amazing routines and for squeezing us into his busy schedule.”

While the stage show is a little different to the famous 1978 film, it is essentially the same, much-loved story which had the audience singing along to a hatful of popular tunes including Greased Lightning, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You and You’re The One That I Want.

Ian Lavender, Headmaster at Windermere School, has seen eleven musicals since he’s been at Windermere School, and says that this year’s production was certainly one of the best, if not the best he’s seen.

Adds Mr Lavender; “The quality of the performances of Grease and the vocal dexterity was stunning. The quality of the acting, the choreography, the use of the stage, the artistry, the set, the costumes and the hair and makeup was exceptional. Every scene was perfect. This was teamwork at its very best.

“What was most touching to me was to see the journey so many students have made. I remember seeing some who are now performing in Grease first perform in their Year 5 and 6 production at Elleray. It is heart-warming to see such talent emerge, not to mention the mutual support across seven year groups.

“There are so many people to thank, but I would especially like to thank Mrs Hurstwaite, Mrs McCallum Hartley and Mr Bromley for bringing the whole school community together through a remarkable and uplifting show. I can think of nothing more special than to see children laughing and singing together. So once again, a huge thank you to everyone involved.”

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