A look Inside the Production of Grease!


Samantha Brennan, Digital Editor

For the past 22 years, Mark Todd has put on annual large-scale musical productions at Holyoke High School. The first musical was Oklahoma” in 2000. Since then, the musical has gathered immense support from local businesses with donations coming in regularly. Two years ago, COVID-19 halted the show that was just a couple of weeks shy of opening night, “Mamma Mia!” Finally, 2 years later, Grease” will be showcased a few weeks from now. After a competitive three weeks of auditions, the cast list was revealed. The cast is made up of students at HHS.

Mark Todd teaches a few different music classes at the school, which include music lab, bell choir, choir, and the advanced choir known as Madrigal. Mr. Todd is also the co-department head of music, the Senior and Sophomore class advisor, and As Schools Match Wits co-coach with Kevin Bechard. He, along with wife Lori Todd and Danielle Bedford have been choreographers for the shows in their entirety. Daniel Rose is the show’s pianist and has been with the crew for 10 productions. Unlike other high school musicals, the show has a live orchestra. Two members of the orchestra have been with the entirety of the show. Richard Glashow, a drummer, and Richard Loomis, a bass player, have helped put the shows together for the past 22 years. 

It has always been Mr. Todd’s goal to never repeat a musical. However, Grease” was first put on the HHS stage in 2005. For the first time, a musical will take the stage for the second time, 17 years later. When asked, “Why are you repeating a musical,?” Mr. Todd answered willingly, “Coming back from a pandemic, we want a good audience appeal. When returning from something so horrific, we wanted to do something fun. We never wanted to repeat a show. Some of the best-laid plans of mice and men don’t come to fruition due to major global interruptions.” When asked “Are you excited for this year?” Mr. Todd says, “Yes, we are excited about working with a cast that does not have a lot of experience. To take a show and put it together with a crew that has not done a musical is a challenge.” To lighten up, he adds “To pull it off, and get something positive is what it is all about in order to keep the ball rolling. The ball has stopped with COVID-19 and we now have no choice but to keep it going.”

Looking back at the school’s 2005 Grease,” I asked, “What is your favorite memory from the 2005 show?” He explained that his son Nathan was Eugene that year. His other son Jason, was a Greaser as only a freshman. He says that it is a great memory to look back on since they both got to be in a show together. Aside from family affairs, he says getting the Greased Lightning car was the trickiest thing. He mentions, “We built a car, and it actually worked. The show does not and will not work without a car, so to have a car is important, and we did it.” Mr. Todd is thankful he has the opportunity to do another show. He ends with, “Just having the ability to do the show, the pandemic took out a lot. [The] glass is always half full, not empty.”  

Herald Writer and Senior Alexa Moran will be playing the lead role of Sandy Dumbroski in the show. Previously, Alexa landed the lead role of Sophie Sheridan, in “Mamma Mia!” However, COVID made an abrupt stop to her debut. Two years later, Alexa shares her thoughts on returning to the musical productions with a brand new role, yet still in the spotlight. She says, “Summer Nights is my favorite scene so far because it is my favorite song and the whole cast really comes together so well. We kill that scene every time. Also, I am looking forward to the full stands of people in the auditorium and everyone coming to this long-awaited production. Lastly, I can’t wait to see everyone’s hard work that has been put into the show come to life when the show opens up.”

Senior Natalie Morris will be playing the iconic Frenchy in the show, which is her dream role. She has been in numerous musicals. Making their debut in 2018, Natalie was a fish in The Little Mermaid” as an eighth grader. The following year, she was an ancestor in the Addams Family Musical” and a bridesmaid in MAMMA MIA!” This year is extra special for Natalie. Her father and biggest mentor Aaron Morris will return to his alma mater as cast to be Teen Angel. He played Kenickie in his high school days at HHS. Natalie says, “I am excited and nervous for my first lead and happy to be with my dad. My favorite scene so far is Beauty School Drop Out.” This fall, Natalie Morris will be heading to Massachusetts College of Art and Design to study illustration. 

Senior Emmie Lundgren will be playing Patty Simcox in this year’s show. Emmie has been involved in musicals since she was in 5th grade. She played a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz,” a Blue Bird in “Shrek,” a School Girl in “Sister Act,” an Ancestor in “The Addams Family” and a Bridesmaid in

MAMMA MIA!” Emmie says, “I am thrilled! My favorite scene is the cheer scene. It will be a great reaction from the audience, and I cannot wait until people see it!” She added, “The role of Patty is awesome because I always get to say my lines loudly and confidently. I am having a lot of fun. It can be a bit challenging to be perky all of the time but I am getting used to it for sure!”

“Grease” runs from Apr 28, 2022 to May 1, 2022. You do not want to miss the electrifying energy that is coming to the John Sears Auditorium in just 3 weeks. Tickets go on sale soon, with a new online buying option. Options are also available for patrons to buy at the door on any of the days. Show times run as follows: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, at 7:30pm, followed by a 2pm Matinee on Sunday.