Issaquah High Theatre Is Back with Grease the Musical

Jenni Young, Staff Writer

On March 13, 2022, actors and stage crew took a short rest before a stacked week of bright lights, dance numbers, singing, and tiring shows, but precisely two years ago on that momentous day, some of these same theatre students were sent home in devastation after finding out that their musical “Legally Blonde” was canceled after preparing to record the show that day. These students drove home heartbroken that their journey had abruptly ended. 

Vox journalist, Constance Grady, stated that COVID-19 “turned the essence of theater into something dangerous. It shut down Broadway, the center of the United States’ theatrical community, for longer than Broadway has ever closed in its history.” Stephen Langston, Scottish producer and composer exclaimed, “Even theatre impresarios Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh were forced to close their productions, resulting in many permanent job losses and hundreds of self employed actors and technicians taking an unwanted ‘rest.’” The lives of actors all over the world, big and small, were majorly affected by the pandemic, like so many others. Although COVID-19 has changed our lives in ways that will be lifelong, as restrictions have loosened up, we have found that the joyous occasions we once treasured can be born again. For these theatre students, “Grease the Musical” was a major revival of that joy that once came from the Issaquah High School theatre department. 

Many cast and crew members stated that “Legally Blonde” had a major impact on their experience with “Grease” this year. Junior Abbie Cap says, “‘Legally Blonde’ definitely demonstrated to me how much the comradery that I’ve built up in theatre meant to me. It demonstrated to me how much musical theatre has had an impact on my life and my happiness.” Now that theatre is back and thriving more than ever before, this happiness can be felt once more nationwide. As producer and performer Santiago-Hudson comments, “It is the balm that we all need right now, not just on stage, but in our city…It’s a necessity, it’s in us as human beings.” I witnessed that happiness within the cast and crew as everyone ran to hug each other after the curtain closed each night. 

The friendships that the cast and crewmates developed throughout the past five months while working on the show are quite clear. Senior Matthew Bratton says that the thing he’ll miss most is “getting the time with these people, because pretty soon everyone’s gonna go off and go our separate ways with our own lives.” Likewise, Cap states, “I’ll miss working with the same group of people because that will never stay the same. I’ll miss the seniors, I love working with them all so much. No show is the same as the one before it, and you get so attached to the people, places, and the work that you do for the show, and that can be really difficult to say goodbye to.” It is truly touching to see how a group of people can grow so close to each other after only a few months of working together.

“Grease” brought in crowds of hundreds, as people from all around the community came to celebrate the arts and each individual’s hard work. At each performance, actors would enter the stage and see loads of people crammed all throughout the large theater. Specifically on March 18, the Friday performance, the seats were nearly filled at maximum capacity! This in turn filled each and every actor’s heart with hope and confidence. Freshman Braden Innes exclaimed, “I thought it was really awesome, and when they said they were bringing out extra chairs I was really excited.” The support that came from the community truly made IHS’ “Grease” a magical experience that united people once again. After performing in front of so many people, many actors were able to regain that sense of individual courage to let their voice be heard. Cap says, “It’s an opportunity for me to express myself.”

In addition to the bond and joy “Grease” cultivated, it also taught the involved students a lot of life skills. Sophomore Nicole Liu, the assistant stage manager from the production, says, “I learned a lot about leadership, patience and organization. I’m not usually someone who likes talking to people, especially telling them what to do, but as an assistant stage manager, it became something I had to do on a daily basis. I learned about the responsibility of leadership and how to better talk with others.” As Liu and so many others were forced to step outside of their comfort zones, they gained abilities that will stick with them for life. The art of theatre itself teaches a plethora of valuable skills to anyone that chooses to be involved in it. 

Acting Studio Chicago also explains that theatre helps us see new perspectives different from our own, promotes education and literacy, and reminds us that we are not alone. Additionally, it states, “Studies have shown that students who participate in theatre do better in school.” The positive influence of theatre is a list that goes on and on, and it is something that needs to be recognized by our school in a more direct way. Grease was a revival of fascination that was previously lost, but now that it is back and more alive than ever, it is important that everyone, no matter who or what they are involved with, helps to support all that these students have and continue to work for.