Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

GREASE is the word in this rural community theater

Voiced by Amazon Polly

One of the most infamous girl groups from the last 50 years slide on their signature jackets, basking in the glory of the first costume fitting. There is laughter and excitement as these Sampson County students who have been reciting the lines of the Pink Ladies for weeks get a viewing of what they will look like on stage.

What’s the best part about acting with this ensemble?

“Just like in the original movie, the girls are very close and they love each other as family, and we’re kind of like that,” one student says.

The Pink Ladies of Sampson Community Theater’s production of GREASE. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

In the foyer of the Sampson Community Theater stands a rolling rack with sequined graduation gowns, 1950s prom dresses, beauty school capes, and jackets for the T-birds. On the ticket counter sits a painted red sign reading “Rydell High,” and leaning against the door is a red 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible cut out. Outside, the marquee is a glow with the community’s upcoming show dates of “GREASE.”

Sampson Community Theater marquee. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

This is the same theater that Angela Martin, director of GREASE and 18-year theater arts educator at Hobbton High School, performed at from the early age of 8. Growing up in the area, she thrived on stage.

She attended Midway High School and headed to North Carolina State University. After school, she traveled internationally with the performance group Public People. She eventually made her way home and came to teaching through lateral entry.

Martin got her master’s degree in theater education and studied for a summer at the London School of Drama in 2012. Grants from The Simple Gifts Fund helped make both of those opportunities possible. They also are responsible for funding of this year’s performance of “GREASE.”

Since 2005, she has directed almost 80 productions at either her school or this community theater. It’s people like her that make a performance like this possible.

“Angela shows her love for the Performing Arts through her efforts at Hobbton High School, the Sampson Community Theater, as well as other productions and performances. Her endless energy and tireless efforts to help and work with others is evident in her schedule. I don’t know how she fits it all in, but Angela is always willing to help with any task, whenever asked.”

Hobbton High School Principal Michael B. Warren
Angela Martin directing one of the musical’s signature songs, “GREASE Lightning.” Caroline Parker/EducationNC

This all-county performance of “GREASE” includes 40 students from 8 different high schools and homeschool students. In the hopes of getting equal representation, Martin called the principals at all the high schools to schedule a time to meet with students. She had an open call, gathering students who were interested in participating and explained what would be involved if they were to audition and get a part.

One thing to know about Martin, her mom Brenda says, is that she will find a place for any student that wants to be on stage. Brenda has been the chairperson for the Sampson Community Theater for 10 years. Her daughter loves the theater, and she has been supporting it her whole life.

Dakota Williams is a junior at Union High School and has never acted in a play, but when he heard about the production of “GREASE” when Martin visited his school, he thought it could be his chance to try out acting.

“A lot of people don’t think theater is something serious you can really do but, if you think about it, it’s a way you can express feelings, emotions that you don’t get to express around other people.”

Dakota Williams, junior at Union High School playing Roger in GREASE

Simon Ussery is a sophomore that is homeschooled and is this production’s Danny Zuko. He has participated in theater before and loves the opportunity to study new characters, singing, and putting his spin on the performance.

Martin made sure to reach out to him when auditions were happening. Gathered on stage with his cast, he says the director “encourages and pushes us to be better.”

This year’s cast of GREASE in Sampson County. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

The limited run for Sampson Community Theater’s production of “GREASE” is set for April 28-30 and May 5-7. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. To get your tickets, go to the the Sampson Community Theater.

Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.