Grease, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, premiered on Broadway in 1972. Set at fictional Rydell High School in 1959, Grease follows ten working-class teenagers as they sing and dance their way through the hormone-laden mine fields of romance, drag races, sock hops and soda shops.
Most people are familiar with Grease from the hugely popular 1978 film starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing and Jeff Conaway. Since that time, Grease has been performed numerous times both on- and off-Broadway, and the musical's songs have become part of American pop culture.
Last year's Fiddler on the Roof was the most Farmington had ever spent on production rights for a musical Ð until Grease. Shawn Lyle, superintendent of cultural affairs, said Fiddler's record-breaking attendance and revenue numbers left the city confident that Grease will yield even more impressive returns.
"This is the biggest risk we've taken, but based on last year's show and the growth over the past few years, we believe it's worth the risk," said Lyle. "We would love to see Grease break last summer's attendance record of 7500 people."
Lyle said the city is also hoping Grease's attendance will peak earlier than Fiddler, which didn't start selling out until mid-July.
"I'd like to have the problem of selling out from day one," he said.
Like Fiddler, which had 29 actors, the Grease cast will be a big one, with 22. Theresa Carson, theater manager for the Durango Arts Center and former San Juan College theater director, will serve as Grease's artistic director, as she did last year. Rehearsals for Grease will begin May 13, with the show running June 20 through Aug. 3 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Lyle said the city is considering expanding the amphitheater in other ways, possibly integrating some theme nights into the summer program.
"We're looking at what we can do to make the hospitality side more fun, more relaxing and more enjoyable," he said, adding that one possibility is a "50's-themed dinner theater.
The city is also exploring affordable ways for the public to use the amphitheater, said Lisa Hutchens, the new director of the Civic Center, which oversees Sandstone and Lion's Wilderness amphitheater.
"It's such a wonderful venue that not everyone's aware of," she said. "We want to expand the use of it, and make it more appealing to locals and visitors."
Auditions (for those 16 and older) for Grease take place February 2 from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington, and February 16 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Durango Arts Center, 802 E. 2nd Street, Durango.
Dance call and callbacks will be at 1 p.m. at both locations. Those wishing to audition should call the Civic Center at 505-599-1144 to make an appointment, and should bring a completed city application, which can be downloaded by visiting fmtn.org/sandstone.
Auditioners should also bring a 90 second (combined) monologue and song to perform. Those wishing to apply for a technical position can send an application to 901 Fairgrounds Road, Farmington, N.M., 87401.