Dodge City High Schools' production of "Grease" is set to open Jan. 31 for a three-day run and the cast has their poodle skirts and Converse sneakers ready.
The show, set in the 1950s, parodies the tribulations of being a high school student in those less-than-modern times, when chewing gum was still a major offense and the line between good and bad behavior wasn't blurred at all.
"It's definitely a change from 'My Fair Lady' last year," said Cale Morrow, senior who's playing Danny Zuko, a role made famous in the movie version by a young John Travolta.
"Grease" premiered on Broadway in 1972 and became an instant hit. Because of a highly tuneful score, broad characters and retro look, the show has become a favorite on high school and community stages.
Despite the up beat music, which manages to pay tribute to the tunes of the time while satirizing them at the same time, the script for the show tackles some darker and more intense themes: love, friendship, rebellion, gangs (which were called cliques back then) and even teenage pregnancy.
The original Broadway production was nominated for seven Tony awards, including Best Musical. The show won two Drama Desk Awards, for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Costume Design and Adrienne Barbeau won a Theatre World Award for her portrayal of Betty Rizzo, a role which Stockard Channing played in the film version.
Members of the DCHS cast took a break from rehearsal to discuss the show with the Globe Thursday morning.
"It's really an up beat show," said Sara Robinson, senior, who plays Charlene "Cha-Cha' DiGregorio.
"It's full of great doo-wop music that's fun to sing and you can let loose and not have to strictly follow the score," said Morrow.
The students agreed the component of the production that's giving them the most concern right now is the dancing.
"It's pretty complex but we'll get it," said Alice Pyle, senior who plays Sandy Dumbrowski.
"It kind of makes me miss The Ascot Gavotte from last year's show," Morrow said.
Although the music is deceptively simple on listening, the actors said there are sections which are challenging.
"The backup music is more difficult than last year — there are complicated harmonies and rhythms," Pyle said.
Asked if they had a favorite number, Heather Gilmore, senior playing Patty Simcox chose "Hand Jive."
"It's a song that gets everybody on stage and the choreography is a lot of fun," she said.
"And there are plot things going on during the whole thing, so that's fun too," Morrow said.
Musical accompaniment for the production will be provided by a small group of musicians in the pit: piano, bass, drums, guitar and two saxophones.
Page 2 of 2 - "They're great," Morrow said. "Because it's a smaller group and because of the style of the music, they get a change to improvise a little and throw in some of their own riffs," he said.
The production as it will be presented by the DCHS troupe is a combination of the original script and score, components from the movie, and revisions made by the authors for later revivals and school editions.
"People probably won't see this exact version anywhere else," Morrow said.
Working on a rehearsal schedule shortened by a few days due to the way the calendar falls this year, the cast signed up for a big commitment when they audition for the show.
Rehearsals are held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. three days a week and from 3:15 to 5:15 two days a week. Sundays are spent working on the dances from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays are set building days.
"This set has a massive unit that stays in place for the whole show, with lots of scenic elements that drop in or roll on," Pyle said.
"The whole show will really fly," Morrow said.
"And we have a character, Vince Fontaine, who's on stage doing his radio show announcements during most of the scene changes, so the show really doesn't stop," Pyle said.
The cast numbers close to 50.
"And that includes a good number of freshman and sophomores, so we're building a group of future leading actors for the department," Morrow said.
The students' busy schedules have affected their work on the show as various cast members had responsibilities during Tournament of Champions or on other sports teams.
"That's another reason it's good the have freshmen involved," Morrow said. "They haven't gotten so involved in other activities yet."
As seniors, many of the students have high expectations for the production.
"It's just like everything you do as a senior," Plye said. "You want to look back on it and remember that you had fun, that it was successful and that you did your best," she said.
Another group of young musicians who have a connection to the show will have a chance to think back on their own experiences.
Members of the cast of the DCHS production of "Grease" in 2003 have been invited to attend the Saturday evening performance and arrangements are underway to get them on-stage for the final number.
"That should be fun," Morrow said.
IF YOU GO
What: "Grease," the DCHS 2013 musical
When: 7 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and 2
Where: DCHS auditorium
Tickets: $7 for reserved seating, $5 general admission
Tickets available through the DCHS Athletic and Activities office at (620) 227-1777.