- Associated Press - Sunday, March 12, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - He does not have a residence in Columbus, but maybe Alvaro Francisco should consider getting one.

Prior to “Grease” beginning its three-week run on March 2, the actor from New York City had already made six appearances at the Springer Opera House.

Born in Colombia and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Francisco has also experienced success as a model, having been featured in magazines such as GQ and People, as well as in national television commercials.

His earliest lead roles at the Springer were Prince Christopher in “Cinderella” and Troy Bolton in “High School Musical.”

Most recently, he was Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid,” Paul in “A Chorus Line,” Lord Farquaad in “Shrek: The Musical” and Marius in “Les Miserables.”

“The people at the Springer are like extended family to me,” he said.

As soon as he is cast, he begins to get warm messages from people in Columbus.

In “Grease,” he portrays the lead male character Danny Zuko, a role made famous by John Travolta in the hit movie.

“It’s a great role and a very familiar one,” Francisco said. “I don’t want to be a carbon copy. I want to bring my own interpretation.”

And, a new kind of energy.

Lucy Shea of Dallas is also trying to bring something a little special to a familiar role. In her first appearance at the Springer, Shea portrays Sandy Dumbrowski, a role made famous by Olivia Newton-John in the movie.

“It is an iconic role,” said Shea, who wants to bring a freshness to the character. “I am very excited about coming to Georgia to play it.”

She has previously played characters as diverse as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins,” Carrie in “Carousel” and Ado Annie in “Oklahoma.”

“Grease is just a terrific fun show for everybody,” Shea said.

The musical, known for hit songs such as “Summer Nights,” ”Greased Lightning” and “Beauty School Dropout” features a large cast.

A very familiar face at the Springer is playing the role of Kenickie. Jim Pharr is the director of the No Shame Theater at the Springer. He was most recently seen as Carlson in “Of Mice and Men” and Chef Louis in “The Little Mermaid.”

As Betsy Rizzo, Deanna Jelardi returns from New York to the Springer stage where she was last seen as Diana Morales in “A Chorus Line.”

A Columbus State University graduate, Maddie Tweed, who recently played Curley’s wife in “Of Mice and Men,” is playing Frenchy in this production.

The story is centered around the senior class at Rydell High School in 1959, especially the too cool for school “T-Birds” and the gum smacking, chain smoking “Pink Ladies.”

The focus of the story is the romance between the hot rod king Danny and Sandy, the sweet new girl in town. The two had a secret romance in the summer but now back in school find their relationship more complicated. The show is about peer pressure and values.

“Grease” was written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

The show is being directed by Paul Pierce, the producing artistic director of the Springer. He calls “Grease” an “electric show.”

“There is something about ‘Grease’ that is equal parts danger and wholesomeness at the same time,” he said.

“Grease” will be at the Springer through Sunday, March 19.

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Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, https://ledger-enquirer.com

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