Grady alumni Jim Howard reads a letter to the cast and crew of ‘Grease’ (Photo by Steve Tischer)

By Clare S. Richie

Grady High School Foundation raised $5,700 in donations last weekend at the school’s production of “Grease.” This brings the capital campaign tally to $20,700 in donations toward a goal of $50,000 to update the auditorium’s  failing light and sound systems.

For the production of “Grease,” rented microphones supplemented the faulty sound system), but the audience cheered the spot-on dancing and signing, phenomenal set and choreography by by an eleventh grade cast member Ebet Lansing,

Special guests in the audience also inspired the cast, including dozens of Grady High alumni from 1955-60, who came to the honor the late Bronte (Myron) Woodard, who wrote the adapted screenplay for the movie version of “Grease.”

Bill Hedgepeth, Woodard’s friend and Hollywood screenplay and sitcom writer, shared this meaningful connection to kick off the show.

“There are 37,100 high schools [in the U.S.] and out of all of these high schools there’s one that was the inspiration for ‘Grease’ – and that high school is…”, Hedgepeth asked the crowd, who yelled back in unison: “Grady!”

No doubt, Woodard’s time at Grady High influenced his vision for Rydell High.

After the show, the cast and alumni gathered together on stage for a photo that will hang along with a plaque to Woodard. Then, Jim Howard read a heartfelt thank you letter to the cast – to which director Lee Pope cheered “Grady Forever!”

Excerpts from Alumni to Cast Letter (read by Jim Howard):

Dear Grease cast, production crew, and student body of Grady HS,

The Grady alumni of the era of Grease owe you a huge debt of gratitude. The performance you just gave depicts the experiences that we actually lived and you brought it all back for us.

Yes, we did have black leather jackets, wore full skirts, and rolled bobby socks. We wore Levis with pegged pants so tight we had to put zippers in them to get them on. And we wore everything in pink and black.

We adorned our heads with crew cuts, flat tops, duck tails and peroxide blondes. And we rolled up cigarettes in our t-shirt sleeves.

We had several Grease Lightnings and a few romances in their backseats. I know it’s hard to believe but you’re surrounded by a lot of Sandys and Dannys right now.

And the dance you had in the Rydell High gym – we had those sock hops right here in your old gym.

So, do you see what you did for us? This moment is back to 1959 created by you in 2017.

This event was made even more special because one of our classmates wrote the screenplay for Grease.

So you might say that Rydell High was really Grady High over 50 years ago.

That’s the way we felt as we were watching you perform.

We are impressed by the amazing quality of your talent and your enthusiasm for the performing arts.

There’s no doubt that if you have aspirations for a career in theater, Grady HS graduates like you can make it.

I don’t think we have any beauty parlor dropouts in this group of kids. So, follow your dreams. You will make it and we will be proud of you.

If you’re interested in making a donations to the Grady HS Foundation auditorium fund, visit  gradyhsfoundation.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

One reply on “Donations pour in to upgrade Grady High auditorium during ‘Grease’”

  1. What a fun story–hearty congrats to all the Grady cast, crew, and musicians!

    Several years ago I saw an excellent production of Cabaret (mature for high schools!) at Grady; but this year’s Grease sounds really special. Very best wishes to all!

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