Behind the scenes of Claremont secondary’s upcoming production of Grease, The Musical, is a high school tale of its own.
Playing Sandy is Grade 12 student Emily Mackin, who falls into a social-class conundrum with Danny, played by co-lead and fellow Grade 12 Matthew Stachniak. Their stage relationship as a couple is an extension of a real-life partnership, though it’s not exactly a reflection of it.
“We were hanging out last summer and Matthew would sing,” Mackin says. “I told him he was good at it and he should try out for the school play.”
Mackin, however, is a stage veteran. She’s been involved in Claremont’s past three productions: Wizard of Oz, Legally Blonde and 42nd Street. During that time Stachniak was at Reynolds secondary and not part of its drama program. The closest stage experience, he said, was when he last took part in a Grade 10 choir. Otherwise he’s been plucking his guitar here and there. Acting is new, to say the least.
“I went into (October’s) Grease auditions having fun, but I really didn’t think anything would come of it,” Stachniak said. “When the cast list came out a week later I saw Emily’s name first on the list (as Sandy), right below it was my name, I was pretty shocked, it was a bit nerve-racking.”
Claremoent Drama head Colin Plant said Stachniak was a natural fit.
Offstage, Danny is not in Stachniak’s character, but onstage he’s totally a Danny, Plant said.
“When (Stachniak) auditioned, he nailed it. Though he was a rookie, we believed with coaching and hard work he could pull it of.”
In Grease, Sandy and Danny first meet in the Californian summer of 1959.
Assuming Sandy will return to Australia for September, they forego their short-lived romance. When they meet at school, Danny, a greaser, is unable to break character and they’re separated by peer groups, until they break the barriers and reunite.
As a real couple, Mackin says being in a stageplay with Stachniak ends up being more fun, if anything.
“The scenes demand you to be professional and true to character, anyways,” Stachniak says.
“The teachers here are dedicated to making it a professional environment and they’re good at it, so it’s comfortable,” Mackin said.
For Grease fans who know the character of Kenickie couples with Rizzo – that’s happening in real life at Claremont as well.
“Go figure,” Plant says. “Really, we’re blessed because the dynamic of the lead group is very positive, they really work with each other,” Stachniak agrees.
“We actually hang out, we’re a close group. It’s like we’re in high school or something,” he says.
Claremont’s Ridge Theatre presents Grease from May 13 to 16 and May 19 to 23 at 7 p.m. There is a Saturday, May 23 matinee at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12.50 for students/seniors at 4980 Wesley Rd. Call 250-658-6672 for reservations.