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Writer of ‘Grease’ visits Central

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Jim Jacobs, co-writer of “Grease,” the iconic 50s musical, visited Central this past Sunday to meet with the cast of this year’s production of “Grease.” The event was coordinated in a span of two days through student connections.

“It was actually orchestrated by Susan Houff, who lives in Hinsdale and is the grandma of a few Hinsdale Central students. Susan and Jim went to high school together, and he actually based the character that I play off of her,” said Sarah Hansen, junior, who plays Patty Simcox.

Houff knew that Jacobs was in town last weekend, and contacted the school to set up the event.

“She knew that Jacobs was in Chicago for the weekend and I worked with her to schedule a time when Jacobs was available. It was pretty miraculous that we were able to pull it together in two days,” said Mrs. Christine Hicks, director and English teacher.

Like Hansen, other cast members had the opportunity to learn about the real life inspirations behind their characters and have taken that knowledge to practice.

“[Jim Jacobs] said that he sees himself as a cross between my character, Doody, and another, T-Bird, so I’m seeing this awesome fun-loving guy in front of me, and I’m seeing how I can make my character better and more like the real deal,” said Yianni Kinnas, junior.

Aside from learning more about the characters, the cast also learned about the motivations for the play’s plot. According to Addy Stafford, junior, who will be playing Sandy Dombrowski, the play was partially a parody of the teen flicks at the time.

“He told us that Sandy’s change at the end of the musical into a ‘Greaser’s dream girl’ is just a twist off of movies that he used to watch as a high schooler. Those movies always had a bad boy who fell in love with a sweet, wholesome girl and she changed him for the better. But him and his greaser friends didn’t like that because they liked the lead male as a bad boy. So it’s kind of making fun of that,” Stafford said.

“It changed our view of the show, because we heard about his intentions and we’re trying to adapt our interpretations to be more like his vision of the show,” Hicks said.

Overall, cast members found Jacob’s personality particularly engaging and amiable for someone of his stature.

“Meeting him definitely exceeded my expectations. He was so casual with all of us, even though we are high school students and he is the author of one of the most popular musicals ever written,” Hansen said.

“I definitely didn’t think he would be as personable as he was. And it was so cool how after a good 30-40 years he can still be so excited to talk about his show,” Kinnas said.

“Grease” will be playing March 7-9 in the auditorium.

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Writer of ‘Grease’ visits Central