Joe Caskey thought “Titanic” was great.
And then he was selected to play the role of Danny Zuko in the “Super Bowl halftime version of the show” of “Grease.”
“’Titanic’ is that massive, epic musical that doesn’t get much done due to the value of the production and the number of people it takes to make the production really work and be believable,” said Caskey, a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma City. who made his Lyric Theater debut playing Robert Hitchens in the Civic Center’s 2019 production of “Titanic the Musical.”
“It’s actually a very similar vibe… because we’re trying to fill a whole football field.”
‘Grease is the word’ for Lyric Theater this summer, as Oklahoma City Professional Theater prepares an immersive version of the beloved musical to perform at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School’s Pribil Football Stadium for performances from Tuesday to June 27.
“Even if you’ve seen ‘Grease’ before, you’ll be amazed the minute you step out of your car into the parking lot. For the first time, you’re actually going to be transported to 360 (degree) world of ‘Grease,’ a said Michael Baron, artistic director of lyric production.
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Back to school
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lyric staff made the decision earlier this year to feature the full 2021 open-air theater season. at various locations across OKC. Instead of doing three summer musicals at the Civic Center as usual, Lyric is focusing entirely on “Grease” this summer, as production comes with additional challenges.
“Now the vaccine is here… and the idea itself turned out to be beyond fun. It’s basically pop-up theater in a giant way, because the stadium is not built for. the theater live. So we have to shoot all the sounds, lights, sets, costumes and find out how it works with the stadium, ”Baron said.
“Who knew when we announced the show that the public was going to be allowed to come to this show without a mask? We don’t require masks because everyone is outside, and we have increased the capacity to 600 seats in the stadium, which is about 50% capacity. So there is still room to spread out. And the energy of the show is ridiculous. “
As the show’s director, it’s obvious Baron “enjoys summer” the process of directing the nostalgic musical, which takes place in the 1950s and chronicles the secret summer romance and fallout of the show. school year between Sandy, the new girl in town, and Danny, the coolest cat in Rydell High School.
“The idea of having ‘Grease’ in a high school is what makes it fun to be there. Being surrounded by a real high school, seeing their real athletes practicing track and field while we rehearse… has been a explosion. And working with Bishop McGuinness, they couldn’t have been more generous, ”Baron said.
“It’s done at the scale on which I thought it needed to be done. Because I was in the marching band in high school, I kind of know how many people and how many we have to fill a stadium for a show. And see. the 62 performers dance “Grease Is the Word” and “Summer Nights” is just as spectacular as I thought it would be. “
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Production at stadium scale
Lyric’s third show of the 2021 outdoor season, “Grease” will feature a cast of 30 actors, mostly students, who have all been vaccinated, as well as a teenage choir of more than 30 high school students from the region.
“We have 16 rolling units (landscapes) that require four people to move per unit. They are so big.… Every time we want to change the whole landscape, it’s a huge undertaking. halftime Super Bowl version of ‘Grease’ the best way, ”Baron said.
Lyric presents a personalized version of the 1971 musical with a book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, which will be performed without an intermission and will incorporate songs from the 1978 hit film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton- John.
“It’s pretty wild so far. We really have enough people to fill the football field,” said Sydney Jones, University of Oklahoma junior with Sandy.
“In a way, it feels like nothing has really changed. We’re building those connections again on stage, and we’ve kind of regained that intimacy that we’ve lost for so long. But then it all seems. so surreal. I just remember this is a really special opportunity. Everyone is vaccinated, not everyone can do an outdoor show in this big space, and we really didn’t get to have been doing for over a year now. “
Making her debut at the Lyric Theater, Jones is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up performing outdoor theater at the Muny.
“Learning to adapt to the sun and the heat and really focus on myself – hydrate beforehand, have enough food – that was a bit of an adjustment. But I always liked theater in the open. tune, that’s what I “I’ve been doing for years. So while you have to work really hard to be healthy and safe while playing, I love the performance environment outside, ”Jones said.
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Classic car show
The show will feature all the poodle skirts, leather jackets and hot rods that will make this the one die-hard “Grease” fans want.
Lyric is teaming up with the Canadian River Cruisers Classic Car Club, which loan out a variety of classic vehicles to be shown on the lot as part of the show as well as in the parking lot for pre-show viewing.
Additionally, local radio personality TJ Brown, who plays the DJ on the show, will be spinning 1950s records while ticket holders take their seats, all of whom will be supported by the production.
“I feel like ‘Grease’ is, at least like in this country, close to everyone’s heart and that everyone is connected to it. Even for these younger generations, it’s so awash in our culture. everyone knows that, ”said Caskey, who previously played Danny in a Repertory Company Theater production in Richardson, Texas.
“All of the music is so iconic, especially with us doing a number of the main songs in the movie. Everything has that pulse… all that youthful, coming-of-age energy all the time.”
Lyric Theater presents ‘Grease’
When: from Tuesday to June 27. June 15-27
Or: Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School Pribil Football Stadium, 801 NW 50.
Tickets and information: https://lyrictheatreokc.com or 405-524-9312.