New Native Theatre Presents Bear Grease Musical with All-Indigenous Cast
New Native Theatre is bringing to the Twin Cities the very successful international tour of Bear Grease, a hilarious Native twist on the 1978 classic, Grease, reimagined with Indigenous humor and pride.
Bear Grease is New Native Theatre’s second production after being named a 2023 Headwaters Foundation for Justice Bush Prize winner that recognized New Native Theatre’s approach to decolonizing the theater ecosystem and creating a living expression of indigenous storytelling centering Native artists and audiences.
Artistic Director of New Native Theatre, Rhiana Yazzie says, “We’re excited to share this unique and wildly successful tour to Minnesotans. Unless you’re Native, most in the performing arts community don’t know about the phenomenon that is Bear Grease, and we’re delighted beyond words to always be that bridge to bring the best authentic Native work across the globe to the Twin Cities.”
Creators of Bear Grease who hail from Canadian First Nations are Crystle Lightning and MC RedCloud, a husband-and-wife duo with extensive résumés in music, theatre, television and movies, including a recording career as the rap duo, LightningCloud. They made Bear Grease to provide modern and positive representations for Indigenous people in the arts.
Like the original, it is based on Grease’ central characters Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson. Lightning, who plays Sandy and MC RedCloud, who plays Danny, are joined by an all-Indigenous cast of characters who offer clever twists on ones made famous in the film.
Hip-hop plays a big role in this version instead of the pop and rock and roll that were cornerstones of the original hit. The costumes are largely faithful to the 1950’s poodle skirts and leather jackets worn by Newton-John and Travolta, though indigenous accents have been added.
MC RedCloud told the Calgary Herald, “The 1960s weren’t the best time for Natives,” citing the tragic history of boarding and residential schools across North America. “We didn’t have the freedom to dance around the streets and hallways like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. This is almost like a chance to re-imagine that.”
New Native Theatre will present Bear Grease for six performances at Gremlin Theater in Saint Paul located at Annex Building, 550 Vandalia Street, #177 on March 2nd at 7:30 p.m. (Rock Your Mocs Night), March 3rd at 2:00 p.m. (Elders Day), March 7th at 7:30 p.m. (Aunties Night), March 8th at 7:30 p.m. (Native Bling Night), and March 9th at both 2:00 p.m. (Youth Day) and 7:30 p.m (1950s Costume Contest).
All tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $35. Audiences can buy tickets online by going to https://newnativetheatrebeargrease.bpt.me, or by contacting New Native Theatre at email@example.com or by calling (612)367-7639.
New Native Theatre is a new way of thinking about, looking at, and creating authentic Native American stories for the stage. Based in the Twin Cities, it is the most frequently producing and largest professional Native American theatre company in the Midwest focusing exclusively on Native American playwrights, actors, directors, and audiences. For more details, contact New Native Theatre at (612)367-7639, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.newnativetheatre.org.