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'Grease'

Nick Martinez and Megan Kane rehearse with the rest of the cast for the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival's production of "Grease."

Maybe it was the sweat still glazing their faces, but Megan Kane and Nick Martinez think at least one song will stop the show when the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival presents "Grease" in June.

The pair, who portrays Frenchy and Doody in the classic love story set at Rydell High School in the summer of '58, had just finished rehearsing "Shakin' at the High School Hop" when they sat down with The Citizen Tuesday. Kane said the festival found an "amazing" cast for its season opener at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, so the chemistry of the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies has come easy.

That also goes for Kane and Martinez, who portray the most innocent of the couples linking the two gangs, Martinez said.

"We're finding the silliness and shyness of first love in high school," he said. "They're a fun little couple."

Portraying lovebird leads Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson are Michael Notardonato and Heather Makalani. Iconic as the roles of the 1978 film are, Kane said, director Igor Goldin has been encouraging the cast members to find their own versions of the characters. The last thing he wants, Kane continued, is for Notardonato to impersonate John Travolta, or Makalani Olivia Newton-John.

"He tells us, 'Don't go for the laugh. Go for the truth, and the laugh will be there,'" she said. "We're trying to find the nuance of these scenes that allow us, as kids, to be kind of awful to each other."

But the festival's "Grease" won't be at a loss for fun, Martinez said. Unlike many productions, the one at Merry-Go-Round will feature all the music from the movie, whose soundtrack differs from Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's 1971 musical. The production also fleshes out background characters like Miss Lynch, Martinez said, and puts DJ Vince Fontaine on stage instead of limiting him to a voice.

Kane called Goldin, choreographer Phil Colgan and Producing Artistic Director Brett Smock's vision of the show "a really cool amalgamation." The show was last performed at Merry-Go-Round in 1998.

So fans of the movie, like her, should be satisfied with the theater's return to Rydell High.

"This movie was one of my first interactions with musical theater as a kid. I looked at these people doing exactly what it was I wanted to do. So it was a real touchstone in my life," said Kane, who along with Martinez is making her Merry-Go-Round Playhouse debut on Wednesday. "I saw it as, 'I want to do that.'"

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.