Four teachers – Carolyn Nickelo, Emily Reilly, Sheena Henderson and Grace Simms – are all lending a hand backstage, all while remembering their own days of rehearsing the popular musical back in 1997.
“It’s surreal for me, a little bit,” said Henderson, 33. “I was in the cast, but now I’m the vocal director.”
While her character wasn’t originally in the musical, the director at the time created the spot for Henderson to showcase her talent.
“Watching from a distance, yes, it brings back memories. I often forget that it’s now 16 years later. Some of the clothes are so similar, or some are the same costumes we wore then.”
As Rizzo’s understudy, Nickelo, 31, didn’t officially appear on the cast list, but that didn’t stop her from helping out backstage and learning the lighting cues.
“Theatre … it gets into your blood. Once you’ve been a part of it, it’s hard to give it up. By coming back to teach at this school, we have an opportunity to be involved in theatre again.”
And that’s what happened for Henderson, Nickelo and Reilly, who works in the costume department.
“I was in the pit band, which was really small back then. There were eight people and I was intimidated by the process,” the 31-year-old said. “I had only been in one production then. I had no experience. I was terrified.”
While Nickelo and Henderson both had previous experience in theatre, it was an eye opener for Reilly.
“For me, it was the first time I saw any serious live theatre, so it was a different experience,” she said.
Having been in the 1997 production, the women said they wanted to be a part of it this time around.
“We’ve been talking about it for a while. A lot of us remember it so vividly from 1997, so there was a lot of hesitation,” said Henderson. “It’s a fresh way to present it again.”
The first production saw more of a caricature-style setting, with extreme clothing and hair. This year, the cast is more realistic characters in their 1950s settings.
“Given that most of the students now weren’t born back then and hadn’t seen it, it was almost the perfect time to do it again,” Henderson added.
Nickelo and Reilly both teach math and are using the production as an opportunity to connect with their students.
“It allows us to connect with them on a totally different level,” said Nickelo.
IF YOU GO
What: CEC students presenting Grease
When: April 6, 9, 10, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., April 7 at 2 p.m.
Where: Cobequid Educational Centre.
Tickets: $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors; available at CEC, and MacQuarries Pharmasave on the Esplanade.