Students, faculty, and the community of Billings will be able to enjoy the iconic musical “Grease” presented at the Billings Studio Theatre (BST) from Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 18. The opening week is scheduled from Friday through Sunday and the remaining weeks from Thursday to Sunday. All Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinees will be at 2:00 p.m.
Local business owner and theatre expert, Kelly Martin, is the director for “Grease” and expects a sell-out event at the BST.
“I directed my first play in 2004,” said Martin. “Grease was my first musical in 2007. It was at the BST and sold out every seat so we remounted it four months later in the Alberta Bair and sold out there as well.”
Local recording artist Austin Martin, Kelly’s son, will play the main character of the musical, Danny Zuko. Back in 2007, Austin played the role of Eugene in the same musical as his first character on stage. He received training in music and theatre at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York.
“He has come a long way. From Eugene to Danny,” said Kelly Martin.
Austin Martin received a spot in the Top 35 in the Glee project. That contest had over 100,000 artists competing for a role. He also made it to the executive producer rounds of both “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.”
“I’m so excited because playing Danny is a once in a lifetime role.” said Austin Martin. “Grease is my favorite musical and I was thrilled when I got the part,”
Austin has been a part of 12 musicals in his career so far. After the shows are over, he will go on a national tour to over 40 cities all over the U.S. to perform his new album ‘Cold November.’
West high senior Peri Russell, 17, will play the iconic role of Sandy Olsson. Russell started her training with Billings Studio Theatre in 2009 and fell in love with the art.
“It is the first musical I learned front and back,” said Russell. “This play is what got me into musical theatre and grew my passion for singing. This is one of my dream roles. It is an iconic thing.”
“You can tell she loves it.” said Martin. “She is Sandy,”
Russell mentioned that it is her first time working with Martin as a director. She has enjoyed the experience.
“It actually has been really great,” said Russell. “I am usually in shows where I know all the adults already and I didn’t know the majority of the cast, but I got to know everyone really well and I love being here with them.”
According to Kelly Martin, the 18-member cast prepared rigorously for eight weeks to present a world-class show. “Grease” was written as a play in 1972, five years before the movie came out. The movie has four songs that aren’t in the original play despite the fact both adaptations share the same plot.
“The cast is really tight,” said Martin.
The executive director of BIllings Studio Theatere, A.J. Kalanick, called Kelly Martin and asked him if he was interested in directing “Grease.” Martin agreed because of his own emotional connection with the musical.
“I grew up with ‘Grease,’” said Martin. “I saw it 30 times in the theatre when I was a kid. I used to perform it in the living room. My mom would have people over and say ‘Kelly come down and do Grease’ It was a big part of my life.”
Kelly Martin has been involved in over 130 shows during his career. The tickets for “Grease” are over 90 percent sold out. The ticket price for students and seniors is $20 and regular tickets are $22.
If you are interested in purchasing tickets or want to learn more about the play call BST at 248-1141, or visit the website at www.billingsstudiotheatre.com.