We did it!!!! Yay!!! Greece does Grease has finished its 2 week run and the reviews were great!! Oh my gad YAYYYY!!! We can say that we were a critical success! I honestly was in tears when I read Colin Thomas’ review in the Georgia Straight. Serious tears. I was so happy!!!! The blurb about the choreography from the Straight reads as follows:
“Thanks partly to the energetic choreography of April O’Peel, the big group numbers have the most sass. In my favourite, “Vile Underworld”, the demonic chorines wear tiny aubergine tutus, glittering black collars, and spider-shaped pasties. So far, I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen in which the chorus members wear spider-shaped pasties.”
YAY! Like I mentioned in my earlier post- I can’t take credit for all the choreo as we work really well collaboratively. HOWEVER the one dance that I can say IS mine all mine was the Underworld dance and that a good chunk of the Choreo in the large numbers came from me. YAY!! The other really great review the choreography received was from PLANK magazine. It read:
“The dances have been choreographed by April O’Peel, and they are hilarious, not to mention ‘in your face’, as the ideas that we are often only alluded to in main stage productions, are overtly played out in front of us with no holding back! And it’s clear from the very beginning that the performers are having a ball!”
Now Vile Underworld was a new piece since the first incarnation of Greece in February. We needed another number to portray how Persephone was coming into her own in the Underworld. And the direction was for it to be sex-ay! This was a fun challenge for me because I’ve been typecast (by myself as well) as the weirdy funny one. Alot of my strongest pieces have been comedic in nature so this was a chance for me to prove my abilities in terms of more erotic choreo. And I think I did pretty okay!
The song was chosen for me. It had to be from Grease 1 or 2 and to be honest- there wasn’t alot left that we hadn’t covered already!! We settled on Grease is the Word from the opening credits of the original Grease. Step one. Check. Now for my influences I must must must give credit to my friend and mentor Melody Mangler. No other person has taught me more about the art of erotic movement. Except for maybe one other. Now don’t laugh- but as a teen in the 90s, my Madonna was Britney Spears! So maybe you don’t like the music, and ok she kinda lost it there for abit but the girl in her day had MAD sexy dancing skills. You can see a homage to a piece of hers in our dance. I seriously have been waiting about ten years to use it for something. Oh my god, hot!!! I also found inspiration in the warm up for my Luciterra Tribal Fusion bellydancing class I’ve been taking. During the class I found myself thinking that certain yoga stretches we were practicing would look pretty sexy if they were to be used in a dance. See if you can find them in the preview below!
Overall I am really happy with the number! I’d say my weaknesses were that some of the moves might have looked like I stole them from a Carmen Electra workout video (cheese my friend. total cheese.) and my usual issue with not enough emphasis on the tease. I will point out that they weren’t wearing much to start with and we didn’t receive the costume pieces for Miss Fitt until after the dance was finished. Excuses, excuses- but I hope you enjoy my attempt at the sexy!!! I want to again thank all the cast and crew for all their hard work and especially the ladies of the Underworld Dance for making me look so good!! Reowr! xoxox!!!!
Greece does Grease! This is one of Screaming Chicken’s Big Deal productions! We are attempting to take a classical Burlesque play, one which parodies popular theatre (in this case, one of the world’s most successful musicals), to a larger, more upscale venue!! We’re going to the West side bay-bee!!! EEEE!!! I will admit to being slightly terrified. Yes, we did this last year with SHINE: a Burlesque Musical, but alot of the production efforts were lead by the amazingly talented super singing duo The Wet Spots. We learned sooo much from the last run! I definitely did anyway! I was asked to take over the choreographer position from my ultimately awesome super talented compadre Melody Mangler for that run. I am definitely tried to take what I learned from that awesome experience and apply it here! I’ve found it important to try and be organized, to have some freekin faith in my and the cast’s abilities, and to keep positive. Long rehearsals are hard on everyone and I’ve been trying to keep things light so we all don’t want to kill ourselves as much. Fear has been trying to play into things here as this is one of our first attempts at making it on our own at this scale without co-producers. Melody Mangler wrote the play, Violet Femme is directing, and I’ve been in charge of the choreo. One of the reasons SHINE was so incredibly awesome was that it ultimately had some really deep and meaningful messages about Burlesque that we were able to convey to a mainstream audience. This play is pure Burlesque! All parody, all satire, annnnd alot of dick jokes! I’m hoping that this will translate and the audience will be able to enjoy a play with adult humor that is ultimately 100% pure titillation. I’m pretty sure they will! One of the great things about comedy is that if you can make people laugh- you already won half your battle! Its hard not to like something that makes you feel good! Laughing is Awesome!!!
It has been hard for me to assume the title of Choreographer for this project because in truth, most of the pieces were done collaboratively. I can’t say the entire thing is my vision and my vision alone because that simply is not the truth. We work really well together and I think usually the pieces that result are stronger because of it! But this is not to say I haven’t been working ridiculously hard in my position. I have been to more rehearsals that most cast!! I think a more honest title for my position would be Dance Director or Choreo Realizer. I have been cleaning and directing and choreographing nonstop for the last month and to be honest- It looks good. I feel good! I am proud of our efforts!
I have found inspiration in lot of places for this production! The majority being from different Musicals I have loved over the years and the original Grease productions. Back to School from Grease 2 is one of my favorite ensemble pieces ever!! I am always inspired by large group numbers that can use simple movements but end up looking powerful through unison and performance. I tried really hard to encourage both of those with our cast. To remember the choreo from the last run we were lucky enough that we had footage to refer to. It had been filmed from the balcony of the Wise Hall so I really ended up with a birds eye view and was able to deduce a few things. One of them being that even if the movement is simple, its better if its bigger!! If say an arm circle was required, I would direct for it to be larger! Higher than your head! Just makes everything seem more grand and exciting! It doesn’t have to be harder- it just has to be bigger! The second thing I noticed was that I needed more elaborate shapes. It was harder to work with a larger group just based on my experience with smaller ones but it was a fun challenge. Simple things like turning 2 lines into 4 made it seem like more was going on and felt less boring. I also found it a fun challenge to try and get different groups moving differently at the same time. More going on=more fun to watch! Overall I am really pleased with the results! I hope for more opportunities to apply what I’ve learned working with such a large cast to other big group numbers in the future.
That being said, come check out our show!! Its very awesome! Greece does Grease is running Oct 7-Oct 10 and then again Oct 13- 16 at the Waterfront Theatre. You can buy tickets here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/131168 and find out more info here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149099188462081&ref=ts.
Below is a clip from Dress rehearsal of Persephone of the Nympths, a Trailer for our play, and a vid of Back to School from Grease 2! Enjoy!
My adventures in Burlesque Choreography!