Grease is a romance movie that has won our hearts ever since its release. But what is more exciting is an all-Indigenous production of the musical that represents the culture and talent precisely – Bear Grease takes a twist on the conventional story of high school love.
Bear Grease is a traveling theater founded by Crystle Lightning and her husband, MC RedCloud, who are both dedicated to representing their Indigenous identities in spaces where it often gets excluded. According to Lighting, she never saw people like herself in the media or art scene and wanted to change that for the better.
The cast comprises familiar characters like Sandy, Rizzo, and Danny. However, Bear Grease was designed to give every character an Indigenous touch, with elements of humor, music, and fashion to make it personalized. Lightning also explained that their target audience is not only Native Americans but everyone.
The duo wants to introduce the Native customs and culture to all audiences so they too can appreciate and enjoy the fun and artisanship. The music is inspired by the 50s, but traditional instruments like flutes and drums are added to highlight the cultural aspects of Indigenous people. There is also an element of hip-hop to appeal to the younger audience. The all-Indeginous production offers something for everyone and is simultaneously informative about the Native culture and lifestyle.
RedCloud and Lightning met in California and created their hip-hop duo called Lightning Cloud. The duo has worked with popular artists like Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, and Timbaland. RedCloud is known for his 18-hour-long freestyle rap that earned him a Guinness World Record in 2014. After he was recognized for his creativity and efforts, he used his fame to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women.
Crystle hails from Enoch Cree First Nation in Alberta; she moved to Hollywood as a child to pursue an acting career. She was featured in American Pie Presents: Yellowstone, Outlander, and Bandcamp. She also won an award for best actress for her character in Trickster as Maggie.
RedCloud and Lightning first wrote Bear Grease for school students in Enoch Cree First Pandemic. However, due to the onset of COVID-19, they had to drop the idea. The duo was also asked to perform at the Edmonton Fringe, an Alberta-based theatre festival. During this performance, they decided to revive the script for Bear Grease and started making preparations to complete it within the following month.
The cast of the all-Indeginous production enjoys shedding light on the territories and communities they visit through their show. They generally change the language and last names used in the show to customize the stories and messages that Bear Grease depicts whether they visit.
As per Lightning, “We add to the show. We add various songs to tailor to whatever community we are going to.”
Bear Grease has received a widely positive response from not just Indigenous people but others who have enjoyed and laughed at the story from start to finish.
Feature image from BearGreaseLive.com
4 Comments on “Grease: All-Indigenous Production brings Indigenous Culture to Light”
Do you have a schedule where they are performing Grease? Sounds like fun! Please let me know. Thank you and God bless💛🙏🏻
According to their websites, new dates are coming soon.
Melanie Myers Ibarrasays:
So happy to hear about this musical! Looking forward to seeing it. I saw Crystal/Lightning at a club in Santa Fe during the 2014 Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow. I was so impressed I bought their CD on my way out. Very Talented!! Good Luck be with you!!!
I’d love to be able to purchase the DVD to show the family. Looks like fun.