What would a production of the iconic Grease be without a kiss between Danny and Sandy?
With restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic limiting direct contact for actors on stage, the local production of Grease starting at Wollongong's Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Friday has found the perfect solution. The characters of Danny and Sandy are actually played by real-life partners.
Jess Farrell (Sandy) and Tyler Hoggard (Danny) met and fell in love while performing together on stage in Young Frankenstein in 2016 and are the leads for the So Popera Productions' performance of Grease.
In what director Amy Copeland described as a "happy accident", Jess came into the role after the show was delayed last year and the original Sandy had to withdraw.
"NSW Health has been very clear what you can and can't do in an indoor performance setting, things like you can't have more than five singers on stage at one time and they have to be 1.5 metres apart," Ms Copeland said.
This is the first time we've sold out a season prior to opening night and that response has been incredible.Director Amy Copeland
"The advice is to refrain from respiratory contact and swapping saliva, but with Danny and Sandy being an actual couple we were able to work around that. It couldn't have worked out better."
With Jess coming late into the role coincidentally on the day of their anniversary as a couple, both Jess and Danny said they were thrilled to be playing the iconic roles in such a popular stage show. And the Illawarra community has responded in kind.
The entire season of the show has sold out apart from one added show on Tuesday, January 19.
"We were really apprehensive about how audiences were going to respond [during the pandemic]," Ms Copeland said.
"We're really the first big show since the pandemic and it gets to the point it can be hard enough to get people through the door when you are not in a pandemic.
"This is the first time we've sold out a season prior to opening night and that response has been incredible."
Celebrated Australian performer Jay Laga'aia also makes a special appearance in the production.
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