Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Grease"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Grease"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Little Theatre of Fall River 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 Deb Sadler, musical direction by Robert Perry and choreography by Janice MacDonald, Jeff Belanger and Alex Cruz. The show is high energy from opening to closing with a talented cast of 30.

Deb directs and blocks the show wonderfully and has her cast utilize every inch of the two story set designed by Shawn Elliot. She has Miss Lynch, Eugene and Patty open the show with "Alma Mater" in present day and then back in 1959, has the cast sing and dance to "Grease Is The Word" from the movie. Deb uses three other songs from the movie and eliminates two weak ones from the original show "Alone at the Drive-In Movie" and "All Shook Up" with neither one of them being missed. The vocal prowess of this cast is marvelous and their exuberant dance numbers stopped the show with expert execution by this hard working cast. The 1950's style dances shine in this show in many numbers including "Hand Jive", "Shakin at the High School Hop" with flips and tumbles. The five member orchestra is on top of the two story set and they are topnotch especially the sax solo in "Worse Things I Could Do". Stage manager Maryann Goulart 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 fantastically played by Bobby Sylvia. He captures the true essence of the 1950's character as Danny. Bobby shows off his splendid voice in "Summer Nights" where he and Sandy sing a duet about how they met(with differing versions sung by each of them) in "Sandy" when he is left alone at the drive-in (this song shows off his vocal range) and in the closing duet "You're the One That I Want". Some of his funniest scenes include when Sandy slams the door on him at the drive-in, when he lights up a cigarette while trying to win a race. Gorgeous brunette Samantha Johnson plays Danny's sweet girlfriend, Sandy. She makes the transition from wholesome girl to trashy Pink lady with ease at the close of the show , She contemplates this while she sings "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. Samantha's voice soars in the poignant "Hopelessly Devoted" and in the closing duet "You're The One That I Want" with Bobby. She also sings the touching "It's 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 Bobby excel in all their dances, too. The hard hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is played wonderfully by Jessalyn Sadler Correa who played Belle last year. She dances up a storm and shows her acting range in the comic and dramatic moments in this show. The comic moments include her many one liners and put downs of those around her and 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 Marc Jaillet. 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 and on a real car.

Their friends are well portrayed, too. Statuesque Lynne Corriveau 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. Erica Borges is dynamite as Jan who is constantly eating, especially twinkies, cole slaw and other people's lunches and Greg Silver plays Roger who is called rump because he likes to moon people. Their duet "Mooning" is hilarious. "Rock N Roll Party Queen" is sung by Roger and Doody. The gang pants' Roger in the rumble scene. Tyler Indyck plays the nervous Doody marvelously who gets to belt out his big number,"Magic Changes" while strumming a guitar. Sonny, the school mooch and cad is well played by Cory Santos. The school bubblehead, Frenchy who drops out of school to go to beauty school is played by Maeve Donnelly who makes this dumb girl very funny. One of the funniest moments comes when Teen Angel descends on Frenchy who wears a pink wig in this scene and sings "Beauty School Dropout" to her and tries to convince her to go back to high school. Aaron Gendrau Visco is splendid as Teen Angel. His strong tenor voice fills the theater with its power. Peggy Deston opens the show as Miss Lynch sings "Alma Mater" with Eugene and Patty, welcoming the audience back to 1959 and the good old days at Rydell. Elizabeth Dennis sings "Raining On Prom Night" with Sandy. Another adult in the show is Vince Fontaine played with wonderful smarminess by Andrew Correia who wears leopard shoes Vince picks up Marty at the prom and makes out with her. Johnny Casino is played by Alex Leite. The rah-rah cheerleader Patty Simcox is played by Erin Cote and nerdy, Eugene is played by Brandon Carreiro who are excellent dancers with their funniest moment being when he ends up in her arms at the end of the songs at the dance. The tough talking, dancing dynamo from the other school Cha Cha is hilariously played by Hilary Pavao. So be sure to catch "Grease" for a trip back to the carefree days of the 1950's.

"Grease" (13 - 16 May)
LITTLE THEATRE OF FALL RIVER
@ BBC, 777 Elsbree Street, FALL RIVER MA
1 (508)675-1852

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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