Amy Baker Stout knew she wanted a real — or at least realistic — vehicle on stage for the Lewiston Civic Theatre’s production of “Grease.”
The scenes with the musical’s iconic 1950s street-racing car, Greased Lighting, needed that touch, said Stout, the show’s director. And so she stopped by Sergio’s Collision & Repair in Lewiston and just asked.
“They don’t know me from Adam, and I walk in and say ‘Hi. I’m with the civic theater,’ ” Stout said.
The shop’s owner, Sergio Alba, told her he wouldn’t have time to make a prop car, but he could give the theater the body of a 1959 Chevy Impala he had.
So began its new life, as one of the stars of the show opening June 8 at the old Lewiston High School auditorium.
The multi-Tony-award-winning musical opened on Broadway in 1972, then was adapted into the movie of the same name, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, in 1978. Stout said the show still resonates.
“Though ‘Grease’ is set in 1959, these characters and their struggles with fitting in and acceptance are still relevant in the lives of teens — and adults — today,” she said in a Lewiston Civic Theatre news release.
When it came to getting the car stageworthy, it turned out Stout knew folks who could help, including Troy Syverson, a Lewiston real estate agent (and husband of Lewiston High School drama teacher Mel Syverson), who has a background in auto-body repair.
One challenge was modifying the car body to fit through the old high school auditorium double doors, through which it would have to pass to get on stage. Severson cut behind the front doors and took the top off, Stout explained, so it could fit where it needed to go.
The community support continued, with a slew of donations.
Local musician Lorinda Bisso donated a bench seat, Perfection Tire donated tires, KC Auto Paint & Supplies donated paint, Mike’s Mechanical donated materials for a frame under the car that lets it roll on casters and Dynamic Designs cut the vinyl lighting bolts to make it into Greased Lightning.
Other volunteers collaborated to create the mechanism by which the car transforms from a cruddy old junker into the famed hot rod, a sleight of hand Stout said she’s excited for audience members to see.
“Nobody said no. That makes me very, very grateful,” Stout said of the requests she made of local businesses and volunteers. “It’s been really encouraging to see how much we’re supported.”
The show stars Alex Everett, who appeared as Buddy in the theater’s holiday production of “Elf,” and Monica Evans, who made her Lewiston Civic Theatre debut as the title character in last summer’s musical, “Cinderella,” as teenage lovers Danny and Sandy. They are supported by a cast of Lewiston Civic Theatre stalwarts and some newcomers.
“They’re all just fun and kind and hardworking and talented, and when you have that combination, that’s pretty magical,” Stout said. “There’s a lot of new faces from new parts of the community, too.”
Putting together a show can be grueling, but Stout said this one has been worth every moment.
“I’ve only cried happy tears,” she said.
Stone (she/her) can be reached at email@example.com.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 25.
WHERE: Old Lewiston High School Auditorium, 1114 Ninth Ave.
TICKETS: $10-$18 at lctheatre.org.
OF NOTE: The show includes mature situations and language, and some material may not be suitable for children. Sexual innuendo, language, smoking and drinking (using stage props, not actual tobacco and alcohol), and teen pregnancy are referenced. Special effects include haze/fog and moving lights.