Empire High’s production of the beloved musical “Grease” has drawn members from many parts of the school community. The production will be upbeat family entertainment. 

Richard Gremel

Empire High School’s production of “Grease” opens tonight at the Vail Theatre of the Arts on Tucson’s southeast side, with performances continuing tomorrow night and Saturday night (see If You Go box).

Under the direction of Empire drama director Richard Gremel, 45 students have been working on the production since mid-February.

Students from all over the school community will take part in the musical.

Some of this year’s participants include cheerleaders, athletes and members of the science club, art club and the National Honor Society.

“Grease” was originally a 1971 musical written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, drawing its name from the 1950s working-class youth subculture known as “greasers.”

In 1978, Paramount Pictures produced a musical film version of “Grease” directed by Randal Kleiser and starring John Travolta as Danny and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy. Those roles are played by Aidan Cipra and Savannah Hutchings in Empire’s version of the musical.

The show is set in 1959 at the fictional Rydell High School, and it follows several working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of love and impending adulthood.

The musical focuses on five ducktailed, hot-rodding T-Birds, their gum-snapping female friends, the Pink Ladies, and an innocent new girl named Sandy. 

Head “greaser” Danny and Sandy try to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through songs such as “Beauty School Dropout,” “Hopelessly Devoted,” “Born to Hand Jive” and “You’re the One That I Want.”

While the original 1971 production of “Grease” was somewhat edgy, Empire High School’s production is lighthearted, upbeat and designed for the entire family.

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