Singing “Grease Lighting” onstage would be daunting for most performers – especially if you’re not a professionally trained singer.
But that’s the concept of the Segal Centre’s So You Think You Can Grease, a fundraising event where normal folks will get to perform Grease classics onstage with a live band, in front of a paying audience, with the Grease film rolling in the background.
With no auditions, So You Think You Can Grease, has a bit of a karaoke vibe. Anyone can register on their website and choose a song from the 1978 musical film.
“The people who register are usually comfortable singing on a stage in front of an audience,” said Segal Centre organizer Shari-Ann Fleming, “but if someone wants to sing, they are more than welcome- no matter how terrible or amazing they are.”
Once the individual is registered, money must be raised by donations. A soloist must raise $1,800, while backup singers and dancers have to raise $500. The money raised goes towards youth programming at the Segal Centre’s Academy.
“The donations will go to the creation of youth programs which will allow young students who wish to study theatre, but cannot afford to, a chance to do so,” said Fleming.
The first person to register was Elissa Lifson, who is nearly at the halfway mark for collecting the required donations. Lifson is ecstatic to be able to “stick her foot through the door of theatre again” for the first time since high school. Lifson was fascinated with the idea of getting the everyday person involved in raising money through the performing arts. Lifson will be singing “You’re The One That I Want,” but is worried that no one will fill the role of Danny in her song. “The men are hard to come by,” she said. “I believe we are missing three male soloists.”
While many of the participants are mothers and fathers well into their 30s and 40s, they are a couple of young people stepping into John Travolta’s skinny jeans.
Concordia student Jarred Weinstein is a big supporter of children following their dreams, and has a penchant for for singing onstage. Weinstein registered to sing “Sandy” with the hopes of giving future young actors a chance to study theatre even if they can’t afford it. For Weinstein, this play is an escape from his everyday life. “I always wanted to follow a career in theatre. When I get into character, I can take a break from my everyday life and problems.”
The Segal Centre has also ensured that performances uphold a certain standard of professionalism. If any of the performers go off key, it is not due to any lack of practice. Participants are required to take singing lessons with musical director Nick Burgess.
For his part, Burgess feels fortunate that everyone who registered had some musical experience in their lives. “What is nice about this play is that all I have to worry about is the musical scenes, because the film will be playing during the dialogues,” says Burgess. “It’s great because the performers only have to participate in the fun part which is singing and dancing; without having to spend countless hours memorizing lines.”
If this interactive play is successful, Fleming believes this will become a yearly event. “It’s an original idea because it allows anyone to come and participate, while raising money to an honourable cause at the same time.”
So You Think You Can Grease, May 16, 514-739-7944.
Raffle tickets will be available for $20. First prize is a weekend for two to New York City with tickets to a Broadway show. Call (514) 739-2301 ext. 8310 for more information or visit soyouthinkyoucangrease.com.