Illini Student Musicals ‘Grease’ set to open on Moms Weekend


Photo courtesy of Mitch Ryba / ISM

Go Grease lighting! The Greasers are revving up for open night. Kenickie: Will curtis, junior in Business. Danny: Nathan Pugh, junior in Business. Roger: Michal Szczepaniak, junior in Media. Sonny: Mitch Ryba, senior in Media. Doody: Nick Pugh, freshman in Business.

By Maaike Niekerk, Staff Writer

Illini Student Musicals will be performing the classic musical “Grease” this weekend at Lincoln Hall Theater. 

The group is presenting four full runs of the show this weekend: Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Set at fictional Rydell high school in 1959, “Grease” is the story of two teenagers who fall in love unexpectedly during a summer romance, as they figure out their social lives and love for each other at school.

Sophia Urban, junior in FAA and executive producer of the musical, said they think “Grease” has everything anyone would want in a musical. 

The show will be ISM’s main stage production for the spring semester; they traditionally perform two per school year. “Freaky Friday” took the Lincoln Hall stage for ISM’s show last fall.

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This RSO has been in action since 2012, and “Grease” holds the largest amount of cast members for any show they’ve done to date.

Ethan Fazio, senior in Media, is serving as the director, co-artistic lead and co-technical director for this ISM production.

Tell me more, tell me more! The Pink Ladies can’t wait to show off their dance moves and singing. (From left to right) Marty: Ainsley Holland, freshman in FAA. Rizzo: Jaz Wilkins, freshman FAA. Jan: Emma Perisho, sophomore in FAA. Frenchy: Ellie Pierzina, sophomore in FAA.

“We do our best to find a spot for everybody,” Fazio said. “We’d love to get as many people involved as possible … specifically for Grease, we’re getting close to 70 or 80 people involved.” 

“Our main goal each semester is to give people of any major the opportunity to continue to do theater here on campus, primarily musical theater,” Fazio said.

Ellen Tuttle, freshman in LAS, is participating in her first semester with ISM. She said this accepting environment allowed her to continue exploring her passion for theater in college.

“Coming into college, I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to do a lot of theater,” Tuttle said. “I showed up to auditions and have not regretted it. This has been an incredible process.”

Tuttle is a member of the approximately 30-person cast, which represents only a fraction of people working on the show. Putting on a main stage production, Fazio explained, is a lot of work.

“Almost every day of the week we’re doing something, staying busy and trying to keep going,” Fazio said.

As the cast performs, “Grease” will have an elaborate set depicting Rydell High School as well as a live pit orchestra elevated near the back of the stage.

The set has many smaller moving pieces as well, including the iconic car “Grease Lightning.”

“The car has been one of the coolest products we’ve ever worked on,” Fazio said. Urban said it was “epic.”

On the decision to pick such a classic production to do at this time of year, Fazio said, “We knew we wanted to come into Moms Weekend and give an amazing show, something that really a lot of people know.”

Tuttle said the production will be bringing the energy with exciting choreography and music.

“(The) choreography in this show has been some of the best choreography I think I’ve ever been privy to,” Tuttle said. “And the music is just wonderful.”

“It’s just a fun time,” Urban said. “If you don’t know the songs, or if you know the songs, I think regardless, you’re gonna get them stuck in your head constantly.”

Tickets to “Grease” are available online at


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