<Theatre Mirror Review>"Geease" "GREASE">

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to the reunion of Rydell High School's class of 1959 and the first show of the Community Players 95th season. We return to the high spirited class of gum chewing, hub cap stealing, hot rod loving boys in "Grease" where we also meet their wise cracking girls in bobby socks and pedal pushers. "Grease" ran 3,388 performances on Broadway. This version is directed by Andrew Bobola and excellently musically directed by Ron Procopio with his topnotch three piece orchestra. The talent of this cast keeps you enthralled all night long.

The head hoodlum is excellently played by Ed Benjamin. He is a terrific vocalist and dancer, too. Ed displays his voice in "Summer Nights", in "Alone at a Drive In" when he is stuck at the drive-in movie and in "All Choked Up" with Sandy when he obtains the girl of his dreams. The latter two numbers show off his high register. Ed receives many laughs when he first sees Sandy's transformation at the end of the show. Gorgeous red head Kiki Maples plays Danny's sweet girlfriend, Sandy. Kiki is topnotch in this role especially when she makes the transformation from wholesome gal to trashy Pink Lady. Since this is a musical comedy this message of transforming yourself to fit in with the crowd should be taken in that context and not in real life. Her voice is heard in "Summer Nights", "Raining on Prom Night" and "All Choked Up" Kiki is hilarious in the cheering scene when she messes up the cheers.

The hard hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is excellently played by Bethany Giammarco. She dances up a storm in the show and also displays her magnificent singing voice. Bethany also displays her strong acting prowess in the comic and dramatic moments of the show. The comic moments included her one liners and her put downs of those around her. Her comic number "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" is a hoot as she makes fun of Sandy's wholesome behavior. However it is in the dramatic song "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" that Bethany really shines as she displays Rizzo's softer side when she thinks she might be pregnant. Rizzo's hoodlum boyfriend, Kenickie is excellently played by Ken Densmore. He swaggers about the stage wonderfully and does a dynamite job on his solo, "Greased Lightening" which turns into a huge dance number. Ken and the male chorus do a bang up job on this dance number.

  Their friends are wonderfully portrayed, too. Courtney Contente plays the sexy Marty who is in love with a Marine. She belts out "Freddy, My Love" while backed up by three girls ala The Supremes. Two more topnotch performers are Heather Vieira as the constantly eating, Jan and Ryan Leverone as her boyfriend, Roger who is also known as rump because he likes to moon people. Their duet "Mooning" stops the show with its hilarity. Sonny, the school mooch and cad is well played by David Ghioni. Sonny is always in trouble with Miss Lynch. David has many funny one liners and makes them all hit pay dirt. Chris Margadonna plays the nerdy, naive and nervous, Doody. He is marvelous as he belts out his "Magic Changes" solo and in his duet with Ryan in "Rock and Roll Party Queen." Aubrie Bagdasarian is a hoot as the bubble headed, Frenchy, who wants to drop out of high school and go to beauty school. She handles this dim bulb character with ease, having played a dramatic role as Sister James in "Doubt" back in July. Aubrey is hilarious as this Betty Boop voiced character. Another comic scene stealer is Michael Maio as Teen Angel as he belts out "Beauty School Dropout" and he also does a dynamic job with "Born to Hand Jive" as Johnny Casino.Kudos to all the cast members who do a bang up job with these well known roles. So for a trip back to the rollicking 1950's, make sure you catch "Grease" in Pawtucket before time runs out.

"Grease" (9 - 25 October)
@ Jenks Junior High School, PAWTUCKET RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide