A North Wales teenager is hoping to kick-start a career on the stage when she takes the lead role in Grease at Rhyl’s Pavilion Theatre next month.
Sadie Wagstaff will play shy new girl Sandy in the musical – a role made famous by singer Olivia Newton John in the movie version.
The coming-of-age high school drama, set in the 1950s, is being staged at the Pavilion Theatre by pupils from Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan in Abergele on July 14 and 15, with tickets already selling fast.
Sadie, from Kinmel Bay, is no stranger to lead roles at the Pavilion, and is aiming to work in theatre she finishes her studies.
The 15-year-old said: “I really want to go into performing arts when I leave school so being in Grease and playing Sandy is all good experience. Also I have been on the stage at Rhyl Pavilion as a member of North Wales School of Dance several times as well.
“Everyone connected with this show works hard and we are almost like a family. There’s no rivalry and everyone just wants to put on the best performance we possibly can.
“I’d love the show to sell out and I know my parents are very proud and will be there supporting me.
“We are all looking forward to the show,” added Sadie, who in previous Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan productions played the roles of Ugly in Honk and Kelsy in High School Musical.
The school has staged the musical twice before – but this is the first time it’s been on a professional stage, said Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head of drama Kevin Jones.
He added: “I’ve been involved in all three shows, the first of which was in 1992 and the second 10 years on. We felt it was time the Pink Ladies and T-Birds made another appearance.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our young pupils and a chance to be involved in a real professional experience. They get the chance to see what it’s like working with a lighting and technical team and a professional stage crew.”
Drama teacher Nia Stalker says this year’s show is one of the rare times learners from every year group is involved in the production.
She said: “It’s fantastic. We have an open policy so everyone who wants to be involved can be. If, after auditions, they aren’t selected for a lead role then they can at least be in the chorus.
“There are also a lot of students who don’t necessarily want to be centre stage but want to be involved behind the scenes. Each has a role to play and we need everyone to be fully involved.”
She added: “The auditions went really well and we are very happy with the learners that have been chosen for the lead roles.”
The production’s music director, teacher Laura Kestell, said: “We began rehearsals in January and are now polishing the show.
“The learners are really mature and work together as a really tight and well-bonded group.
“They have really get together and are very close. I believe the experience of performing on a theatre stage in a really professional show will be something they can take pride in, remember and look back on for many years to come.”
Leon Best, 14, of Rhyl, will play the role of hot shot Danny – played by John Travolta in the movie, plus Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze and Craig McLachlan in London’s West End.
Leon said: “I was in the chorus for High School Musical, which I really enjoyed. I just thought I’d give it a go in the auditions and I’m thrilled to have a lead role in Grease, especially as Danny Zuko.
“The auditions have been great and we all get along really well. I have to get really close to Sadie, who plays Sandy, but we have known each other for ages, since Year 7, and are really good friends so there is no awkwardness.
“My mum is really proud and can’t wait to see the show. It’s going to be a really exciting experience. I’d like to work in the media when I finish school and possibly university but this is an experience I’ll never forget.”
Mohammed Butt, 15, of Rhyl landed the role of Kenickie and says he’s really looking forward to being part of a professional production.
He said: “I was in the chorus last year and saw how much fun it was. I decided to go for a lead role this year and was really pleased to be chosen to play Kenickie. I’ve no plans to be involved in an acting career after I finish school – but you never know!
“It’s a fantastic experience being involved in a production like this and my parents are very proud and pleased I’m taking part.”
India Parry, 17, of Abergele will play the male role of T-Bird member, Roger, and says it’s a role she’s happy with.
She said: “My best friend encouraged me to give it a go. I didn’t think I had the confidence to audition but I went for it and was initially chosen for a different role.
“I didn’t care if I was in the chorus or in a lead role just as long as I was involved. We had to change a few roles around and I was offered the chance to play Roger, which I jumped at.
“It’s been great fun and I’m really pleased to be playing a part in what will be a massive show.”
Courtney Lightbown, 17, of Abergele, will play Pink Ladies bad girl Rizzo – following in the footsteps of Brooke Shields on Broadway, and says it’s a character she is well suited for.
She said: “Rizzo’s character is a bit like mine, though not the bad bits! I’m sassy like her and perhaps a bit of a rebel.
“It’s my first time playing a lead role, my mum and dad are so proud. Last year I was one of the back stage crew and was happy with that but I saw what a massive experience it was and wanted to be more involved.
“The auditions were nerve-wracking and I was so nervous but everyone is confident and excited. Everyone gets on so well and we are all really close, boys and girls. And the teaching staff have been fantastic.”
Mia Lockley, 17, of Towyn, will play Jan, the youngest of the Pink Ladies, and says it’s a role she is really looking forward to.
She said: “Jan is quite nervous but adorable and a bit bubbly. I’m really looking forward to getting on stage at the Rhyl Pavilion; it’s going to be a fantastic experience.”
David Lloyd, 17, of Abergele, will play the role of T-Bird Sonny as well as DJ Vince Fontaine, says Grease is his second major role having played Coach Bolton in High School Musical.
He said: “I’m hoping to forge a career in performing arts so landing another lead role was what I needed. I love being on stage and working with the rest of the cast.
“The best part this year is playing two roles with such different characters especially as they both pursue their love interest, Marty.”
He added: “Everyone is so mature and determined to make it the best school production ever. It’s a great cast and everyone gets on so well. It’s amazing and we are all giving it everything we have got.”
*Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan perform Grease at Rhyl’s Pavilion Theatre on Thursday, July 14, and Friday, July 15. Tickets 01745 330000 or www.rhylpavilion.co.uk