Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Grease"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |



"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Grease"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Company Theatre by the Academy of Company Theatre is the hit 1950's musical, "Grease". It opened off Broadway on February 14, 1972 and ran 128 performances before moving to Broadway to run for 3,388 record breaking performances, closing April 11, 1980. The show was made into a very successful movie version in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The audience is welcomed back to the reunion of Rydell High School's class of 1959. Miss Lynch, the English teacher wants everyone to celebrate the high spirited days of gum chewing, hot rod loving boys with D.A.'s and their wise cracking girls in their poodle skirts, bobby sox and pedal pushers. This version is directed by Jordie Saucerman, musical direction by Michael Joseph and choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest. The show is high energy from start to finish with a talented young cast of 29.

Jordie directs and blocks the show wonderfully and has her cast utilize every bit of the two story set designed by James Valentin who also plays Vince Fontaine. She has Miss Lynch, Eugene and Patty open the show with "Alma Mater" in present and then back in 1959, has the cast sing and dance to it. The vocal prowess of this cast is wonderful and their exuberant dance numbers stop the show. The 1950's dances by Sally include "Hand Jive", "Shakin at the High School Hop" and many others. Michael directs a six piece orchestra while he plays lead keyboards for the show and they are all topnotch especially the sax solo in "Worse Things I Could Do". The lighting is designed by Michael Clark Wonson with the "Hand Jive" number with multi-colored lights during it as the standout lighting scene of the show. The car for "Greased Lightning" was designed by Ken Bayliss and was able to be driven on stage and had headlights and smoke come out of it. James as stage manager keeps things running smoothly all night long. Even though the stage version is more of an ensemble piece than the movie, the two leads light up the stage with their talent. The head hoodlum, Danny Zuko is beautifully played by handsome, dark haired John Patrick Hogan. He captures the true essence of the 1950's character as Danny. John shows off his topnotch voice in "Summer Nights'' where he and Sandy sing a duet about how they met with different versions sung by each of them, in "Alone at the Drive In Movie" when he is left alone at the drive-in where he shows off his vocal range with some falsetto riffs in it and in the closing duet "All Choked Up". Some of his funniest scenes include when Sandy slams the door on him at the drive-in and he jogs by the gang right before they want to rumble. Beautiful blonde Hadley Withington plays Danny's sweet girlfriend, Sandy Dombrowski. She makes the transition from wholesome girl to trashy Pink Lady with ease at the close of the show as she contemplates this while singing "Sandra Dee" reprise. Since it is a musical comedy, the message to change yourself to be accepted by others should be viewed in that context but not in real life. Hadley's voice soars in the poignant "Hopelessly Devoted" and in the closing duet "All Shook Up" with John. She also sings the touching "Raining on Prom Night" and does a great job with a part from the original show that wasn't as fleshed out as some of the others. She and John excel in all their dances, too. The hard hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is played excellently by Colie Smigliani who is only 14 years old. She has a dynamite voice, dances up a storm and shows her acting range in the comic and dramatic moments of the show. The comic moments include her many one liners and put down of those around her as well as making fun of Sandy in the comic version of "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee". Rizzo's softer side emerges in my favorite song in the show, "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" where she ponders her plight of possibly being pregnant. Rizzo's hoodlum boyfriend Kenickie is wonderfully played by Nathan Pacheco. He swaggers about the stage in character and does topnotch work on his solo "Greased Lightning" where he and the boys dance all over the stage in an exuberant dance number that stops the show. His entrance in the song in the car is terrific and received many cheers as did his somersault over it during the song.

Their friends are well portrayed, too. Melissa Ford plays the sexy Marty who is in love with a marine. She belts out "Freddy My Love" while the girls back her up like the Supremes. Christina Venturelli is very funny as Jan who is constantly eating, especially twinkies, cole slaw and other people's lunches. Her duet with Roger played wonderfully by Brendan Murray, is called "Mooning". They are hilarious in this number. He is called rump because he like to moon people and he and the boys moon Eugene and the yearbook photographers as they snap a photo. "Rock N Roll Party Queen" is sung by Roger and Doody. Peter Salhaney plays the nervous Doody marvelously and gets to belt out his big number, "Magic Changes" while strumming a guitar. Sonny, the school mooch and cad is well played by Alexander Braun while the school bubblehead, Frenchy who drops out of school to go to beauty school is played by Jacci Smith. She makes this dumb girl very funny and one of her funniest moments comes when Teen Angel descends on her while she is wearing a pink wig where he tells her to go back to high school. Alex Jerimiah is splendid as Teen Angel and his strong voice fills the theater as he and the chorus do a dynamite job on this song and he flies off as the angel at the end of it. Peg Mulligan opens the show as Miss Lynch sings "Alma Mater" with Eugene and Patty. Another adult character in the show is Vince Fontaine played with wonderful smarminess by James Valentin as he picks up Marty at the prom and makes hilarious announcements during scene changes. Johnny Casino is played by Darren Bunch while the rah-rah cheerleader Patty Simcox is played by Catherine Anderson and nerdy, Eugene is played by Roger Dawley. This 13 year old boy steals almost every scene he is in whether he is dancing or singing with his superb portrayal of Eugene especially hilarious is the cheerleading dance sequence.The tough talking, dancing dynamo from the other school Cha Cha is hilariously played by Kendra Cameron who gets to show off her strong singing voice in "Raining On Prom Night" with Hadley. So be sure to catch "Grease" for a trip back to the carefree days of the 1950's.

"Grease" (21 - 23 January)
ACADEMY OF COMPANY THEATRE
30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA
1(781)871-2787

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |