North Shore Music Theatre relives the 1950's with their third musical of their 59th season, "Grease" which ran on Broadway for 3,388 performances and was made into a hit movie in 1978 starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. Miss Lynch, the English teacher welcomes the audience back to 1959 Rydell High School reunion to celebrate the high spirited days of gum chewing, hub cap stealing, hot rod loving boys with their D.A.'s and their wise cracking, girls in their bobby socks and pedal pushers. She interacts with the audience, making them take the gum out of their mouths and doing a lot of funny shtick with them. Watch Danny and Sandy and their friends as they journey through high school high jinks.This version directed by Mark Martino, musically directed by Craig Barna and choreographed by Mark Stuart delivers the feel good times of the 1950's and at the same time their expertise captures the hearts of the audience with their talented cast, earning them a standing ovation as their reward.
Mark blocks his cast beautifully and clearly defines each character so you know who is who. Craig obtains a fantastic harmonic blend from the cast and conducts a seven piece orchestra. Mark Stuart's dance numbers really shine especially "Shakin' at the High School Hop", "Hand Jive", "Beauty School Dropout" and "We Go Together."Leading this cast is tall, dark and handsome, Matt Ragas as Danny Zuko. He is a marvelous vocalist and dancer who captures the hearts of the audience with his portrayal. Matt shows off his powerful voice in "Summer Nights" duet with Sandy, in the song "Sandy" which displays his high tenor range, and in "You're the One That I Want" duet, too. "Sandy" is when he gets ditched at the drive-in and the latter is when he and Sandy finally get together at last. Matt captures the essence of Danny, has many funny scenes including making fun of Sonny getting yelled at by Miss Lynch and smoking a cigarette during a race. The drive-in movie playing behind him during the song "Sandy" is hilarious, too. Gorgeous Ephie Aardma plays the sweet girl next door, Sandy. She has a soprano voice which she uses in "Summer Nights", "Raining on Prom Night",the poignant "Hopelessly Devoted" and in "You're the One That I Want" where she and Danny finally get together when she makes a transition into a Pink Lady.However since this is a musical comedy the point that changing yourself to fit in with the in crowd should not be adhered to in real life.
The hard-hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is excellently played by Gerianne Perez. She dances up a storm as Rizzo and displays her strong acting prowess in the comic and dramatic moments of the show. The comic moments include her fabulous one liners and put downs of those around her. Her comic song "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" is a hoot when she makes fun of Sandy's wholesome behavior. However it is in the dramatic song "There Are Worse Things" that Gerianne really shines and displays Rizzo's softer side when she thinks she might be pregnant. It's my favorite song in the show. The saxophone solo by is superb, too. Her boyfriend Kenickie is played by Miguel Jarquin Moreland. He has the snarl and the swagger down pat in this role. Miguel displays his voice and dancing skills in "Greased Lightening" with the boys.
Their friends are wonderfully portrayed, too. Aleka Emerson plays the sexy, Marty who is in love with a Marine. She belts out "Freddy My Love" backed up by three girls ala the Supremes. Two more comic performers are Brooke Shapiro as the constantly eating, Jan and Michael Mendez who plays her boyfriend, Roger who is known as Rump because he likes to moon people. Their duet, "Mooning" stops the show, leaving the audience in stitches. Anthony Johnson is excellent as Sonny, the school mooch and cad who hits on all the girls. Sonny is constantly in trouble with Miss Lynch. Anthony has many comic one liners and he delivers them with panache. Shawn Platzker who I last reviewed as Flounder, plays naive and nervous, Doody. He is marvelous as he belts out his solo "Magic Changes". He and Michael also sing "Rock N' Roll Party Queen". Lilly Tobin is hilarious as Frenchy, the dim bulb who leaves high school to become a beautician. She is a hoot as this bubble-head who also flunks out of beauty school. Lilly's dumb blonde voice is perfect in this role.
Tony Lawson is smarmy as Vince who tries to pick Marty up at the dance, also sings "Hand Jive" and steals the scene as Teen Angel with his splendid voice in "Beauty School Dropout". Cheryl McMahon is fantastic as Miss Lynch who berates Sonny and watches over the students at the dance. Her interactions with the audience and the students during some scenes in Act 1 is splendid, too. Other talented cast members include Hilary Ekwell as Patty, the annoying cheerleader who has a crush on Danny, Jason Moody as the class nerd, Eugene who displays some terrific dance moves in the show and Morgan Marcell as Cha Cha, the tough chick who wins the dance contest with Danny. So for a fun filled trip back to the 1950's, be sure to catch "Grease" at North Shore Music Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you. Be sure to catch the show before the cast "Hand Jive's" its way out of town.