The biggest fear Grease actors and actresses shared does not happen on stage: it’s not remembering to deliver the correct line or the worry of projecting a clear voice while executing a dance routine. It’s what happens after the show.
Throughout the six back-to-back shows in early March, the audience exploded in ecstasy during curtain call — it never failed to bring extended cheers for the cast. But for the performers, deep inside them a ticking time bomb is set to detonate — one curtain call at a time. They knew that when the lights went off after the sixth performance, a whirlwind two-month-long-chapter of their lives would close.
Youth Bridge Global gained momentum since its first production at Marshall Islands High School in 2004, back when all cast members were from MIHS.
All performances were done on a makeshift stage outside one of the MIHS classroom buildings by the main road.
The inclusion of students from schools around Majuro, including the two colleges, and the exodus from MIHS to the International Conference Center transformed YBG’s image for the larger community.
YBG Director Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrod has been directing plays in various countries since he was in his thirties. Andrew is now 80-years old.
Rainbow of colors
Not many can fathom the bond that is created from spending after school hours with students from different schools. You get the Assumption blue mixed with Coop’s red blended with SDA and MIHS whites then add USP’s royal blue with a spice of CMI’s freedom dress and you get an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs with students pressed together for two months.
YBG students became accustomed to interacting with other students that they relate to beyond the uniforms and their friendships stand out during community events.
How Grease came to be
“For the last few years, I have been stopped in the streets or hailed in local stores with the question ‘isn’t it about time you do Grease?’ Yes. I think it is indeed about time,” said Professor Garrod on why he chose Grease, which he says is the most expensive to acquire permission to use of the 14 plays presented thus far.
Do It Best. Easy Price. Payless. Youth to Youth in Health. Ahmadiyya Community. Canvasback Wellness Center and dozens of individuals had their handprints behind the scenes in the making of the production, a task Veronica “Bonny” Taggart executed since the day she stepped foot in Majuro in early January.
Professor Garrod did his pre-production preparations getting the ICC booked, which can be a giant task itself. Professor had already recruited highly motivated students from Dartmouth University that he knows would impact the local cast.
Then, there are those who willingly volunteer to assist throughout the show: Assumption School’s Joe Doyle, Worldteach volunteer Rachel Raczynski, make up artists Nehmaer Loeak and Ally Alefaio, Tanya Fawkes and Milner Okney.
The play would just be a play if it weren’t for ICC caretaker and sound specialist Tony Wase. Tony received the biggest applause during the Grease finale.
Andrew’s heart goes a long way
We all know Andrew as the professor doing all the plays. What we don’t know is that he genuinely cares for cast members, especially students as he had in the past provided financial assistance to multiple students by providing their tuition, the latest being MIHS senior Terose David.
Professor Andrew also spent time after the play counseling students on achieving higher education, to the point where he contacts the universities and acts as a bridge between the desired school and student.
Depending on the availability of lead male actors Bryant Zebedy and Jobod Silk, Prof Andrew might consider Carousel or South Pacific, both productions by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, of which Prof. Andrew is a huge fan.
But get this, another Rodgers and Hammerstein production and another Marshallese favorite “Sound of Music” does not sit well with Professor, who says: Sound of Music would make the lead male a minor character. In other words, Andrew wants to spread the acting opportunities as much as possible between the genders, and has continually selected plays that offer multiple lead roles for boys and girls.
Read more about this in the March 30, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.