The T-Birds of ‘Grease’ On Making Their Roles Their Own and Their STL Bucket Lists

A rocking rendition of GREASE  has taken STAGES St. Louis by storm, with high-energy performances slated for nearly every day now through Aug. 18. We chatted with the men who portray the T-Birds, a merry band of greasers, to find how they shaped up.

Who are you playing and what kind of unique spin do you bring to your character?

Jesse Corbin: I play everyone’s favorite bad boy, and the group’s hot-head, Kenickie. He’s a guy who acts tough, but I’m exploring some of his insecurities, and his paternal/sensitive side, we get a small glimpse at.

Sam Harvey: I have been given the unbelievable opportunity to play Danny Zuko. John Travolta was truly iconic in this role, so I definitely try to pay tribute to some of his unforgettable choices, but I think I bring some fun high school innocence to the role, as well as blonde curly hair.

Patrick Mobley: I am playing Doody. As the youngest of the T-Birds and the newest member of the gang, he looks up to the other guys in the gang, trying to fit in. My own unique spin on the character really comes from embracing the comedy and searching for the humor in his lines. More often than not, Doody does not have anything of substance to contribute to the conversation, but he always has a one liner to add.

Collin O’Connor: I’m playing Roger. I’m so happy to be playing this character and adding my own spin to it. Roger loves his sense of community while still being able to maintain his own individuality, which is what I like about playing him. The T-Birds can always count on him for jokes, whether they like it or not! I think I’ve found a good balance between being the “butt” of the joke and finding those moments of sincerity with Jan and how he relates to the T-Birds.

Frankie Thams: I am playing the role of Sonny LaTierri. Throughout the rehearsal process, I have found Sonny to be a quirky, spunky, energetic character, and I’m doing my best to honor all of these traits to the best of my ability. I’m pulling inspiration for my character from memories of my high school friends!

Jesse Corbin, Patrick Mobley, Collin O’Connor, and Frankie Thams (Kenickie, Doody, Roger, and Sonny) | photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL

What is your favorite moment in the show? Favorite song? Why?

Jesse Corbin: I have to say “Greased Lightnin’!” Not only do I get to be a rockstar in it, but the whole cast is dancing their assess off and looking HOT! A close second song is “Beauty School Drop Out” (come see the show and you’ll understand why!).

Sam Harvey: Too many to count. My favorite moments are when I get to share the stage with this brilliant cast. I am telling you, these performers are going to knock your socks off. I am blown away by their talent everyday!

Patrick Mobley: The shoulder lift at the end of “Those Magic Changes Reprise” is one of my favorites because that moment captures Doody in a nutshell. His desire to be a star, his youth and his rank in the T-birds all captured in one moment.

Collin O’Connor: My favorite moment of the show is “Greased Lightnin’!” Being a part of a song that is so iconic is a tall order, but our choreographer Tony Gonzalez knocked this one out of the park. IT’S ELECTRIFYIN’!

Frankie Thams: My favorite moment in the show is the reveal of the Greasers at the very beginning of the show. The lights, the set and the costumes all come together seamlessly in this moment and create true theatre magic! Following this entrance is the Grease theme song, which perfectly sets up the show that is to follow. It’s a killer opening sequence!

Why has ‘Grease’ remained so relevant with audiences for such a long time?

Jesse Corbin: While it’s a story from a different time, the themes of friendship, teen angst, crushes and self-discovery are timeless. Everyone sees parts of themselves in each character. Also, EVERY song is a true bop and they have all somehow managed to become iconic.

Sam Harvey: This answer has actually taken me the longest to put into words because I have many different answers to the question, but I think that is just it. This show means something different to anyone you’d ask because it is universal, it is multigenerational and nostalgic. The short and simple answer is it’s just say pure fun and jam-packed with some of the most legendary music.

Patrick Mobley: GREASE has remained relevant because the relationships that these kids have are still applicable today amongst young people and even adults. Plus, the movie is a CLASSIC, so who doesn’t love seeing the movie come to life on stage?

Collin O’Connor: GREASE is relevant today because it highlights relationships and feelings we’ve all experienced. Whether you had a good or bad high school experience, it takes you back to walking the halls and encountering these kids. The sense of community these groups have together is so enriching and to experience that feeling over.

Frankie Thams: Everyone loves a stereotypical high school movie/musical (myself included). “Grease” is no exception! There is truly something for everyone to relate to in the show, whether you’ve already been through high school or not.

Company of GREASE | photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL

Have you ever been to St. Louis? What’s on your STL bucket list?

Jesse Corbin: First time since being a kid. I’m excited to try this float trip I keep hearing about and also the City Museum sounds like a good time. If any locals have other suggestions, PLEASE send them my way. I’m looking for a great dance floor.

Sam Harvey: I was in St. Louis back in March with the ROCK OF AGES 10th Anniversary National Tour and had a great time, but unfortunately it was such a short engagement and the weather was pretty snowy that I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted. Thankfully, I knew I’d be back this summer, and so I’m ready to tackle as many things as possible while I’m here. Definitely want to hit the City Museum, the Science Center, and lots and lots of food spots.

Patrick Mobley: I’ve only been to St. Louis once before, but I look forward to exploring more of the downtown areas, City Museum, and all of the best restaurants.

Collin O’Connor: I’ve been to St. Louis a handful of times! The City Museum changes my life each time I go. Seriously, I’m lost in there 95% of the time. Also, I’m such a foodie, and I have yet to make my way to The Hill. I hear they have toasted ravioli, so they already have my heart.

Frankie Thams: I was lucky enough to be a part of STAGES’ production of MAMMA MIA last season. My favorite St. Louis spots are Pappy’s Smokehouse, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and the Arch (of course).

What’s it like working with STAGES St. Louis?

Jesse Corbin: It has been such a blast to work with this amazing team and feel so much love from everyone involved. I hope this is just the first of many future visits.

Sam Harvey: STAGES St. Louis has built such a loving community that it is truly like a family. This is my first time working here, so I feel incredibly honored to be embraced and brought in to the family this season. It is a very special place to work with incredible leadership and I couldn’t be happier to be here. TEAM!

Patrick Mobley: It’s wonderful! The team that STAGES has put together to bring this show to life is spectacular, making the whole process a lovely experience.

Collin O’Connor: Working at STAGES St. Louis has been wonderful. The care put into these productions rivals anywhere else I’ve performed, and I feel so very taken care of while at this home away from home. There are so many wonderful people behind the scenes who cultivate this experience, and it wouldn’t be possible without them.

Frankie Thams: It is truly a family here at STAGES. The cast, creative team and everyone involved at STAGES are a joy to work with. Find a way to get involved because this is a team that you want to be a part of.

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Jesse Corbin (Kenickie) | photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL

Sam Harvey (Danny) | photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL

Collin O’Connor and Brooke Shapiro (Roger and Jan) | photo by Peter Wochniak, ProPhotoSTL

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Lauren Healey

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