Templeton Secondary School has one of the strongest theatre departments in the district, and consistently produces high-caliber young performers from its program. This month, one of its graduates is performing in one of the most popular musicals of all time at one of the most prestigious professional theatre programs in the country.
Julie Leung is in her final term at Studio 58, and Grease is her final show on the hallowed stage. "It's bittersweet," says Leung. "It's been a long journey getting here, but it has been an amazing journey."
Like many "theatre brats" Leung started her career in high school. "Theatre was for everyone at Templeton. In Grade 9 I did hair and make-up, I was super shy."
Eventually, her time working with the talented and passionate Jim Crescenzo and local directors like Mike Stack had Leung taking her talents onto the stage. By the time she graduated from Templeton in 2009, theatre and storytelling was in her heart.
When asked about the relevance of going to the theatre and what makes the art-form relevant for students today, Leung is quick to say that theatre is an important way for students to experience art and storytelling.
"At Templeton we had a theatre criticism class, and we went and saw a lot of theater," says Leung. "Going to see theatre is great. It's never the same. It changes night to night. And the performers are right there. You are a part of it. You feel their emotions and witness the moments as an audience member. It's so much more engaging than a movie or a TV show."
The Studio 58 production of Grease is based on the original Broadway production, with tough language and more mature content than the film version.
"I think there are some core themes that connect Grease to high school students today despite the 50 year time gap," says Leung. "Themes like identity and fitting in, peer pressure, and even high school romances all ring true to teenagers regardless of the era. And my hope is that students can find something in the play that they can connect with when they come see the show."
Grease runs until February 23rd.