Sunday, August 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Why it's Greased Lightnin'!

Start your engines and head over to Walnut Street Theatre's Grease, where you'll not only see a fantastic cast of familiar characters, but a real car onstage at each performance.

Why it's Greased Lightnin'!

Why, this car is automatic
It's systematic
It's hydromatic
 Why, it's greased lightning!
 (Greased Lightning lyrics)

 Remember your first car?  The car that drove you to your first date? The car you fell in love with?  In Grease, now playing at Walnut Street Theatre, Kenickie shares his first car experience with the T-Birds.

That’s right; a car is driven on stage each night as the guys perform a high energy dance and sing of the ways Greased Lightnin’ will change their lives forever. 

The Walnut’s Greased Lightnin’ is a 1948 Plymouth that was found on craigslist by Glen Sears.  Sears has been Walnut’s Props Master for over a decade.  He continuously finds creative ways to produce props needed to complete the elaborate designs of productions. He recently baked a Swedish Tea Ring every day to meet the needs of The Prescott Method, which had its World Premiere earlier this season in Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3. 

The Greased Lightnin’ car was last used as part of a haunted hayride, which is the reason the words “Just Married” were painted on its side upon arrival. Sears, along with his team, cut the top of the car, to transform it into a convertible.  In order for the car to fit backstage he had to cut 4’ off of the length and 1’ off of the width of the car.  To see it under the lights on stage, with the cast jumping and dancing all over it, it is hard to believe just a few months ago it was in pieces in the shop.

During the production both Matthew Ragas, who play Danny Zuko, and Michael Warrell, who plays Kenickie, actual hit a pedal to make the car move; it isn’t on tracks.  When asked about what car he drove when he was in high school, Warrell jokingly said “A 1987, white Subaru station wagon.  I would have gladly taken this car over that one.”

Start your engines, Philly, and head to the Walnut for Grease, now through July 14. For more information, visit walnutstreettheatre.org.

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Walnut Street Theatre is the oldest theatre in America, founded in 1809. In 1982 it returned to its origins as a producing theatre under the internationally known producer, Bernard Havard, and it now boasts over 55,000 subscribers. Under his leadership, the Walnut established a strong commitment to artistic excellence and a dedication to developing American theatre artists through its nationally known programs, including its highly regarded apprentice program. The Walnut has received numerous awards for its artistic achievements, including the Barrymore and Carbonell Awards. Widely known for successful collaborations and co-productions both in England and the U.S., the Walnut has established a strong international reputation. Its absolute commitment to artists and audiences has resulted in the largest subscription audience in the world.

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