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Grease is the word for cast of 55

The word is out: Wairarapa College is heading back to the 50s, with rock’n’roll, slicked-back hair, poodle skirts and the iconic songs we all know by heart.

Next week, the college will be staging its production of Grease [Schools Edition] – featuring classic fashions, big dance numbers, a live band, and a “super talented” cast of 55.

This will be the first time Waicol has performed its yearly production since 2020 due to disruptions by covid-19.

WaiCol head of drama Alix Bushnell [director] and head of music Maggie Fauvel [musical director] have been working tirelessly on the show, with planning officially starting last year when Bushnell started applying for production rights.

Bushnell said they chose Grease, made famous by the 1978 movie musical, as it is “upbeat, positive and fun”, and “something the public would love to see”.

WaiCol last performed Grease in 2014 and with the passing of Olivia Newton-John [who played Sandy in the film] last August, Bushnell was eager to bring it back.

“You also have to look at the kids in front of you in terms of casting – not just the actors, but also the band,” Bushnell said.

“We’ve got kids that are amazing on the bass, guitar, drums, keyboard and piano, who are so strong in playing rock’n’roll music. You want to choose [a show] that plays to their strengths.

“The students all look and sound amazing. The plan is for them to blow people’s socks off – so they leave the show thinking, ‘I want to see that again’.”

Bushnell said the students have been rehearsing for 10 hours per week [including weekends] and, by the time opening night rolls around, they would have been practising for 13 weeks.

As well as directing, Bushnell has also been in charge of costuming, with many of the outfits sourced from Facebook Marketplace and donated by the community.

The students have done their own choreography for the show, led by Year 13 student Tianna Jenkinson, and will be in charge of all the lighting design as well as backstage crewing responsibilities.

“It’s important to give the kids agency, and for them to feel they’ve got ownership of their show,” Bushnell said.

“This is the first time I’ve directed a big musical, and we’ve taken a really collaborative approach with the students. We’ve asked them to contribute their ideas and what they think will look good on stage. We’ve got 55 brains in the room – chances are, they’re going to come up with better ideas than me.”

Bushnell said they also chose to have a gender-diverse cast – with some of the traditionally male roles played by female actors.

“We’ve got a girl who is a T Bird, because I don’t believe the T Birds have to be boys – they’re just people.”

    Grease will open on Wednesday, August 2, at 6.30pm, and run until Saturday, August 5. There will also be a matinee on Saturday at 12.30pm. Tickets are available at eventfinda.co.nz

    Additional reporting by Erin Kavanagh-Hall


  1. Amazing show. The cast are very talented, the voices of the kids singing are truly show stopping. Well donw to all involved. Well worth the money.

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Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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