As far as Paige Kenneally is concerned, "Grease" on stage is better than "Grease" on film, and that's saying quite a bit.
"I was a fan of the movie, but our director is interpreting the musical differently, and I think what he's doing is brilliant," said Kenneally, who was tapped by director Christopher Stefani to play Sandy in the 1972 Jim Jacobs-Warren Casey Broadway smash this month at the Schenectady Light Opera Company. "In the movie it's about Sandy and Danny, but it's actually everyone's story and I think that's pretty cool. It's a real ensemble the way we're doing it."
Whatever SLOC is doing with the show, it's hard to go wrong with "Grease." The original Broadway version with Adrienne Barbeau and Barry Bostwick was nominated for seven Tony Awards, and revivals in 1994 and 2007 were also well received. The 1978 Hollywood film with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John was also a commercial and critical success, and "Grease: Live" in January of 2016, with Julianne Hough and Aaron Tveit in the two lead roles, was also a hit.
"I've seen clips of some stage versions on Youtube, and I did see the movie and the live version they did on TV," said Kenneally, who is a junior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. "So I was pretty familiar with the show when we heard SLOC was going to do it, so we were all pretty excited. I started figuring out routines for my audition right away."
"Grease" is a musical comedy set in the 1959 fictional Rydell High School. It follows the lives of ten working-class teenagers dealing with a variety of issues, including pregnancy, peer pressure, politics and passion.
"The music is really catchy," said Kenneally, "and I do love music from the 1950s and 60s."
Also a member of the award-winning Burnt Hills High School Concert Choir, Kenneally was part of the ensemble (a Jet girl) in the SLOC production of "West Side Story" in November of 2017. She's also had big roles in Burnt Hills' productions of "Legally Blonde" "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Addams Family," and hopes to land a role in "Pippin" next spring.
"I've had some fun roles so far, but playing Sandy in a SLOC production is probably the biggest challenge I've had," said Kenneally. "It's challenging but I'm also having so much fun."
Her co-star playing Danny in "Grease," Scotia-Glenville senior Michael Burns, played Bernado in SLOC's "West Side Story." Other cast members for "Grease" include Amanda Leske as Rizzo and Kallie Tarkleson as Marty.
Kenneally has performed in a few non-musical plays, but more often than not you'll see her on stage demonstrating her vocal talents.
"I've been singing since the fourth grade, and I really enjoy being in the Burnt Hills Concert Choir," said Kenneally. "I've done a few plays, but I tend to lean toward musical theater."
This production of "Grease" is SLOC's annual youth production.
Stefani, who directed the 2016 youth production at SLOC, "Footloose," called the youth show "a wonderful gem at SLOC," and he enjoys working with younger actors "because they consistently bring a new and fresh energy to everything they do. There is genuine hunter and drive that is indescribable."
Adrienne Sherman is the music director and Emily Fuller the choreographer. Others in the cast include Maggy Seebode, Emory Garber, John Maltz, Jake Goodman, Ian Justino and Chris Amodio.
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Nov. 18; performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $28-$22
MORE INFO: Visit www.sloctheater.org, 1 (877) 350-7378