RB’s “Grease” sells out three nights in a row


Cast members (from l. to r.) Rachel Watson, Elliana Giampietro, Caroline Moran, and Kathryn Chicoine during “Freddy, My Love”. Photo courtesy of Colleen Stahnke.

Olivia Lopez, Story Editor

This year, “Grease” took the stage at Riverside Brookfield High School for the annual spring musical. The production consisted of two separate casts, the Cadillac and Mustang casts, who sold out three of the four shows performed March 2nd to 5th.

“Grease”, the 1971 film, takes place in a high school back in the 1950s and deals with social cliques and high-school dilemmas. The main characters, Sandy and Danny, deal with their own obstacles figuring out their place and how they fit in each other’s lives.

Junior Lily Borkowicz played Sandy, a girl trying to find herself while seeing the two sides of her love interest. Borkowicz enjoyed capturing her favorite moments from the original musical that she was able to recreate.

“‘Hopelessly Devoted’ definitely takes first place for me. I have always adored Olivia Newton John’s rendition of the song, so it was truly amazing to have the opportunity to pay homage to her and to add my own style and nuances as well,” Borkowicz said.

With the intricate dancing style that took place in the 1950’s, the process to create the dances as authentic as possible was extremely important.

“I enjoyed all of the dance rehearsals throughout this process, because the style of dance in ‘Grease’ is unlike any other I have ever trained in. It was not as much about having perfect technique or [perfect] looking uniform but more about letting loose and having fun with the movements,” Borkowicz said.

Theater director and special education teacher Colleen Stahnke has been directing at RB since 2016. “Grease” is Stahnke’s second musical production. Stahnke reflects on the musical process.

“For me, it’s the entire imagery of it. So when I pick a show I have to design the set based on reading it, so it’s always really fascinating to me to see how my chicken scratch translates to the stage,” Stahnke said.

Since the film is based in the 1950s, the dialogue and social issues from then to now completely differentiate. This left the directors to teach the actors the different terms, cultural references, and language.

“I guess what made this uniquely challenging was the language—in terms of stuff they were referring to in pop culture in the 1950’s. So like they didn’t know who Gidget was, they didn’t know that Vogue was the name of a cigarette, so just like to distinguish things with the language,” Stahnke said.

Sophomore Kathryn Nesler began her tech crew career in January of 2022. As the head of construction, she builds the set for each RB production and teaches newcomers.

“My favorite part of creating the ‘Grease’ set had to be the diner; although it was only used in one scene, it was our most tedious project as construction,” Nesler said.

On Sunday, March 5th, the lighting system used for the production went out, causing the lighting crew to rely solely on spotlights and work lights. Josh Nelson, the senior lighting head, called the show live for the entirety of the Sunday show. Along with Nelson, the three spotlight operators, Bella Abernathy, Cameron Joseph, and Ryan Enochs, worked hard to resolve this issue. The cast and crew appreciate Nelson’s important contributions to the production and his work throughout that weekend.

“Josh pulled multiple three A.M. nights programming lights to make this show the best it could be. Despite the fact that the last show was not exactly ideal, it created a memory that will not be forgotten,” Nesler said.