Burnaby's own Footlight Theatre Company has been drawing audiences for 46 years with a fun annual musical production for all ages.
This year will be no exception, says board president Rob Christensen, because the choice for this season, opening Nov. 10, is the classic hit, Grease.
"It's such a popular musical, and it hadn't been produced in the Lower Mainland in the last few years, so we thought the time was right to take that one on," he said. "The movie is so special to people that when we produced the play, we made sure we captured a lot of those memorable moments from the movie."
Originally a 1971 Broadway rock n' roll musical, Grease was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster in 1978, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
The story, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, is based on a group of high school "greasers" at the fictional Rydell High in 1959, whose lives revolve around fast cars, sock hops, cliques and classic rock n' roll.
The audience can expect to see some great dancing, have some great laughs, and, of course, hear some great music on stage, Christensen said.
Some of the sing-along numbers include Greased Lightning, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted To You and Mooning.
"We're sticking true, but we have our spin and Footlight touch to it, for sure," Christensen said. "The things that people can expect are that our shows are always great for any audience, and we really push the whole family feeling, and not just in terms of the show itself but how we treat people within the organization."
Footlight Theatre started in Burnaby in 1965, originally putting on shows at the James Cowan Theatre at Deer Lake Park - a vaudeville show and a Christmas play in association with the Burnaby Village Museum, as well as a major musical play every year.
Every season, the company holds open auditions for actors and actresses from around the Lower Mainland who want to experience the stage.
"We've always tried to provide an opportunity for up-and-coming talent and performers to get experience and move on in the theatre world," Christensen said.
For local actor Theo Marx, Footlight Theatre provided a good opportunity to practise his skills, playing "bad guy" Vince Fontaine.
Marx graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2010 with a bachelor of science, but he wasn't able to get work in his field, so he turned to acting.
"I didn't find a job, so I decided to get an agent and start taking acting classes and kind of follow more of the dream aspect rather than the practical aspect," he said.
Last year, Marx played the tin man in Footlight's production of The Wizard of Oz. He has also worked in film and television, but finds local theatre the most rewarding.
"I love community theatre because I want to do stuff that people actually care about," he said. "I think TV is more focused on the whole world, whereas community theatre, it's like you're actually doing it for people that you know, people in your community, helping push the arts kind of thing, I think that's really important."
The other local performer in this year's production of Grease is Angela King, who plays a cheerleader and dance captain.
She, too, is a science student at SFU but at present is pursuing theatre more as a hobby than a career.
This past summer she was in The Music Man with Theatre Under the Stars in Vancouver, and last year, like Marx, she was part of the cast of Footlight's Wizard of Oz.
"I've been doing theatre for pretty much all of my life," she said, noting she is especially excited about being part of Grease.
"I'm really looking forward all the dance numbers and all the songs because I know Grease is a big hit for everyone; if you're a theatre person or you're not, you'll know all the songs," she said. "So, to have everyone feel like they're a part of us on stage, singing and dancing in their seats, I'm just really excited for all of that."
The Footlight production features a cast of 30, stars Lucas Blaney as Danny Zuko, Alex Gullason as Sandy, and Jennie Neumann as Rizzo, and is directed and choreographed by Lalainia Lindbjerg Strelau, with musical direction by Tom Arntzen and Monique Creber and costumes by Christina Sinosich.
Grease runs Fridays through Sundays from Nov. 10 to 24 at 7:30 p.m., with some 2 p.m. matinee showings.
Tonight's preview show is sold out, but a limited number of tickets are still available for opening night, Nov. 10, at a reduced rate of $20.
Tickets are available online through www.ticketstonight.ca or in person at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, at 7373 Macpherson Ave., one hour before showtime.
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