By MIKE CHAIKEN
In the musical “Grease,” the character of Sandy is the new girl in town and an unfamiliar face in the halls of Rydell High.
But in the production of “Grease,” being staged at Holy Cross High School next week, the character of Sandy will be a familiar face to area residents.
Leanne Raymond, a Southington resident, will play the role of Sandy, one half of the star-crossed lovers at the center of this tribute to the rock and roll 1950s.
“It’s such a cute story,” said Leanne in a conversation over ice cream sundaes. “I like that they (Danny and Sandy) are reunited after they spent a whole summer together after they didn’t think they’d see each other again.”
“When you first see them together again,” said Leanne, “the reaction is just priceless.”
“They’re so excited and they only see each other,” said Leanne, “and then Danny has to play it cool. Sandy is so devastated.”
“But when they come back together it’s just a good feeling,” said the Holy Cross actor.
Leanne said the life at Rydell High in the 1950s is not much different than life at Holy Cross in 2016. “There’s cliques of people. So you have the Greasers and you have the Pink Ladies…,” who are the popular kids. Additionally, said Leanne, many of the personalities of the lead characters in the show have their equivalents in the hallways of today’s high schools.
Romance among teens also hasn’t changed too much, said Leanne. Like Danny, Leanne said, “The guys definitely like to play it up. I hear stories sometimes.”
“That’s why the song ‘Summer Nights’ is so cute and funny,” said Leanne. “You hear Sandy, who is most likely telling the truth, and you have Danny change (the tale) to make it more exciting to impress his friends.”
“Grease” takes place in the 1950s and Leanne said that period is “one of my favorite times. I love all the fashion they wore. It really meant something to look nice and act a certain way, and be polite. But I also liked the freedom the kids had. If you wanted to go to the movies you hopped in your car and just went. If you wanted to go to the beach, you just went. You were a lot more independent.”
“It looked like such a carefree time and I would like to go back.”
As for her character, Leanne said she sees some similarities between herself and Sandy.
“Sandy’s very quiet and timid,” said Leanne. “She also focuses on her scholastics, which is very similar to me.”
“In school, I’m also very quiet, and don’t talk much. I’m very focused on my school work. But when she changes, at the end, when she’s the ‘bad’ Sandy, she’s a very strong person and confident, which I also am. So both aspects, I have a little bit of each. It’s very fun to portray on stage…”
There are many iconic songs in the stage show, but Leanne said her favorite song sung by Sandy is “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee (Reprise).”
“It’s finally the moment where Sandy really thinks about herself … She’s tired of acting how she has been. She wants to change up how she is. She accepts she needs to change.”
Of the songs in the show she doesn’t sing, Leanne said her favorite is “Born to Hand Jive.”
“It’s such an upbeat song and everybody in the dance is doing such a fantastic job,” said Leanne. “You should see it when everything comes together. It’s beautiful.”
Audiences should check out “Grease,” said Leanne because “the cast is phenomenal. Everybody works so well together.”
“We’re making the show our own but we’re being true to what everyone wants to see,” said Leanne. “It’s just not a show you want to miss. It’s great.”
Holy Cross High School, 587 Oronoke Rd. in Waterbury, will be hosting a student production of “Grease” on Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 1 at 7 p.m. The show is directed by Dave Gardino. Tickets are available at the door.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.