This weeks rehearsal has been mostly hardcore dancing, and we are less than a month away from the opening day in the blink of an eye! Everybody’s so busy and working the hardest they can in this long and snowy winter, one of which is our dance choreographer: Nicole Rizzo. Rizzo has been dancing since childhood and has explored a variety of genres in dance, such as hip hop, african, belly-dancing, bollywood/ bhangra, and salsa. However jazz has always been her greatest concentration. Despite her extremely busy schedule she still took the time for this small interview for the Theater Blog! Here’s a conversation that we had. (MZ: Maggie Zhu NR: Nicole Rizzo)
MZ: What are some of your personal connections to Grease?
NR: For one, my family name is Rizzo, so immediately I have that connection especially with people referencing my name and the show. I have a love for Grease because I am a sucker for Romance and Shakespeare, and Grease is a somewhat recycled version of Romeo and Juliet, only with 50’s Rock ’N Roll and greased hair! I grew up watching Grease, Westside Story and Dirty Dancing. As an 80’s child there was a certain love for these movies especially pushing the boundaries on dance, theatre, & film. I always draw inspirations from all three avenues when I am working.
MZ: What is your favorite/ least favorite song and dance?
NR: Oh boy, the favorites, this is a tough one. Let’s start with my least: I think I would have to say Sandy (the number sung by Danny at the drive-in movie after Sandy leaves.) It has never been a favorite, but it is a sweet ballad and adds to Danny’s character so I’ll spin it with a plus. Favorite: Hmmmm. It’s a toss up between Greased Lightning and You’re the One that I want, which was not in the musical until the most recent rendition. Greased Lighting was really fun to choreograph and work with the crew. It's very dynamic with the vocals and the arrangement. You’re the One that I Want is that “feel good” song at the end, where you see these two people declaring their love for one another therefore when you hear the song it adds to the dance and musicality.
MZ: Do you personally relate to Grease? Who is your favorite/ least favorite Character?
NR: I relate to Grease on so many levels. There are a lot of rich characters that everyone can see themselves in or at least a small part. Who has not had their heart broke when your a teenager or has dreams like playing the guitar or being a beautician?! This is high school, so pick a character and there is something in this show for everyone; this is why people love it. Honestly I don’t have favorite or least favorite, everyone always thinks that my favorite is Rizzo because of my name. Yes there are parts to her I love; her strength, her sass, her vulnerability but I also love other pieces to the girl and guy characters.
MZ: What is your favorite part and least favorite part about choreographing for Berkshire Theater?
NR: My favorite thing about working with Berkshire School is the casts commitment and willingness to this show and to each other. These kids are such hard workers and they trust Jesse [Howard,] me, and the entire team which makes for a great ensemble cast. There is no least favorite only, getting everything finished and cleaned up before tech/dress. That can be stressful but everyone on board isvery mindful, we have great stage managers therefore they keep us in check!
P.S.: “It has truly been a gift and honor to work with this crew, every rehearsal puts a smile on my face. I can’t wait to see the finished show and hope to work again with Berkshire School!”—Nicole Rizzo