September 2019
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The Reviews Are In!!! BHS’s ‘Grease’ A HIT!

Having directed musicals at Burrell High School for eight years, Martin Connolly finally decided it was time to stage “Grease.”

“Looking at the roster of kids, I got the feeling this would be a good year to do it,” Connolly says of the popular musical, set in the 1950s at fictional Rydell High School. “We had a lot of talent and kids who fit the roles.”

“Grease” features a cast of iconic characters, most notably Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, whose unlikely senior-year romance forms the primary storyline. Danny was played by senior Thomas Swigart, while Sandy was portrayed by senior Emily Sharick for three performances in early April.

But there was one starring role that proved a bit trickier to cast.

“Any time you’re doing ‘Grease,’ the first question people ask is what are you going to do for the car? Are you going to get a real car?” Connolly says of the famous Ford convertible dubbed Greased Lightning. “We got a gas-powered golf cart and redid the frame with plywood to make it look like a car.”

If the three sold-out shows at the high school were any indication, the students – and the golf cart – delivered performances of a lifetime.

“It was pretty overwhelming,” Connolly says. “I knew we’d get a large response. The place was packed the whole weekend. I’d never seen anything like it.”

Sharick was excited about the opportunity to be part of such a successful production.

“The people in the show really made it memorable and fun,” she says. “I was shocked when we sold out every night. It made me really proud of the show that we were putting on.”

The show also got an enthusiastic review from Principal Dr. John Boylan.

“I was so proud of our entire drama club for their efforts,” Boylan says. “The students were cast perfectly, and that is a reflection of Mr. Connolly’s experience and knowledge of the theater. And our students were fantastic.”

Connolly, who teaches Media and Communications Literacy, says the musical’s popularity can affect a director’s thinking.

“People’s expectations make it challenging,” he says. “If you deviate too much from the original, people ask ‘Why’d they do that?’ “

Nevertheless, he wasn’t about to let that deter him.

“I like music a lot, and it’s a rock ‘n’ roll show. We pretty much had a rock band in the pit – guitar, piano, bass, drum kit, a few horns,” Connolly says. “The kids did an excellent job. I was really proud of it.”

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