Love & Lightning
December 15, 2003
There is one love story, kept alive by timeless tunes and lovable characters, which has outlasted – and outsold – all others.There is one phrase to describe that story.Grease Lightning.As a movie, it became the top money-making musical film ever made. As a Broadway production, it became one of the longest-running shows in history, and took home 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.”Grease” comes to the Vilar Center Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.For one night, the Vail Valley gets to re-live the romance and humor behind a popular culture sensation. And, maybe dance a little too.This particular tour, brought to stage by Phoenix Productions, has been running since September. Arthur Callahan, who plays D.J. Vince Fontaine in the performance, says that the production, though built off the Broadway version, is very much unique.”We take some concepts from the Broadway version of the show, but we also use much of our own approach,” Callahan said. “For example, my character, the deejay Vince Fontaine, holds a dance party for the audience before the show starts. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s something we added to the performance.”The show, in general, is a lot of fun, especially for Grease fanatics.”People come dressed up as Pink Ladies, sing along, they get really into the show,” Callahan said.Because no matter how many times you see Grease, the story never gets old.”For some reason, people love to see this story play out,” Callahan said. “It really holds a warm spot in their hearts. They know what’s going to happen, how it will end, but they still love to watch it unfold.”Callahan asserts that it is the timeless nature of the story – and its multi-generational appeal – that gives it longevity.”It appeals to so many generations,” Callahan explained. “There are the people who grew up in the era of the story, there are the people who grew up watching the movie, and there are the children who still consider the story a classic and know the songs. It’s very versatile.”And, according to many, quite prolific to boot.”It is so important to learn what the story is about,” Callahan explained. “Everyone knows how the story goes, but there are so many moments in Grease. So many characters, who all get to tell their stories.”These characters, like the ditzy Frenchie, play an integral role in unfolding the tale.”The way the characters all interact really heightens the intensity for Sandy and Danny,” Callahan said. “Their relations with other characters in the play really determine their relations with each other. It’s all important in how it all comes together in the end for Sandy and Danny.”So, it’s a good thing that the company performing the show is experienced.”Even the youngest person in the cast has been doing shows for more than six years,” Callahan said. “They’ve all put in their time.”Which was a good thing when it came time to pull the production together in Frederick, Md., last September.”We only had 13 days to put the show together, including technical rehearsals,” Callahan said. “It was amazing to see how quickly everyone picked up their part, picked up the choreography. One day we learned it, the next day we polished it. We just stumbled through the show piece by piece.”But by now, they’re all old hands. With performances six days a week and Mondays devoted to travel, there’s hardly time to think of anything but poodle skirts and hot rod cars.Will the holidays be any different?”We get six days off for the holidays, but we have another show on the 26th, and then we’re back on the road,” Callahan said. “It is pretty busy.”And, it isn’t a bad thing, since time has told that no one will ever get sick of Grease.It seems that audiences and cast members alike will forever be “Hopelessly Devoted” to one of the greatest stories of all times.Catch all the action at the Vilar Center Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $55 and $65, based on seating selection.For ticket information, call 845-TIXS.Sarah Dixon is a freelance writer based in Vail.