Somerset High School and the arts: They go together like rama-lama-lama-ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong.
Or at least that’s been the case since Heather Massey stepped on campus. The choir, drama, and humanities teacher at the home of the Briar Jumpers, Massey has played a significant role in helping revitalize the
school’s arts program — with this weekend’s production of the beloved musical “Grease” as an on-stage incarnation of that success.
With a cast of almost 20 students and the backing of an arts-friendly administration — something that isn’t always a given in America’s public schools — “Grease” will showcase the acting and singing talents of Somerset’s youth. And even though the musical (and the movie based on it) both came out in the 1970s, the tale of young love in an American culture that existed more than half a century ago still resonates with high schoolers today.
“‘Grease’ is really popular,” said Massey, a local native in her first year teaching at Somerset High School after earning her degree in Music Education at Campbellsville University. “Everyone knows ‘You’re the One That I Want’ and everyone knows ‘We Go Together.’ ... When I was first hired here, there was a rumor started that we were doing ‘Grease’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ The kids were really excited about it. That made my job easy. When you choose a performance, you want to choose one the kids are going to be interested in.”
Of course, while the rumor turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, it was far from true at the time. SHS hasn’t staged a school-produced drama since the 1980s, according to school officials. Budding thespians at the school have gone without a program to nurture those talents for decades. That’s something Massey — and principal Wes Cornett, hired in the summer of 2011 — have set out to change.