Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Grease"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone

"Grease"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to Rydell High School's class of 1959 where "Grease is the Word". We return to the 50's to see the high spirited group of gum chewing, hubcap stealing, hot rod loving boys with D.A.'s and their wise cracking girls in bobby socks and pedal pushers in the rollicking musical, "Grease". Academy Players presents this popular show which ran on Broadway for 8 years and was made into a very successful movie in 1978. This version directed by Anthony Prichard, musically directed by Anthony Torelli and choreographed by Dana Damiani is a high energy show with a talented cast of 26, helping you relive the good old days of the 50's.

Anthony Prichard not only directs this show but also constructed the massive two story set. The set consists of a huge stairway with upper playing level on stage right, an enormous Grease sign at the back of the stage, a restaurant set on the lower level, a garage with the Greased Lightning car and another playing area stage left. He moves his actors around the set with ease. Anthony Torelli leads his orchestra and taught all the songs to the cast especially impressive is the sax player in "There Are Worse Things I Could Do". Dana's choreography shines in the show especially in the group numbers, "Greased Lightning" with the guys, "Beauty School Dropout" with the girls and "We Go Together" with almost the whole cast.

Dana not only choreographs this show but plays Sandy, too.She and Brad Kirton have a lot of chemistry together in all their scenes and are excellent dancers, too.. Their final duet of "You're the One that I Want" is a show stopper with their vocals and high energy dancing. Their first duet of "Summer Nights" with backup singers will also please the audience. Dana's rendition of "Hopelessly Devoted to You" is a poignant moment in the show and her plaintive delivery of "Sandra Dee" reprise where she realizes she must change her appearance is splendid, too. Brad is a dynamic Danny with his swagger and line delivery. The pelvic thrusts in the songs are excellent as is his solo work in "Greased Lightning" while he and the boys dance around, on and in the car but his voice really shines in "Alone at the Drive-In Movie". Great work from these two talented leading players.

The hard hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is excellently played by Nicole Gemma. She handles her one liners with ease and uses her belting voice in the comic song,"Sandra Dee". Nicole also shows Rizzo's softer side in my favorite song of the show, "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" where the character ponders her plight of possibly being pregnant. Kenickie, her boyfriend is played by Jim Nispel. He makes this hoodlum very funny while influencing the younger guys. (In this show Kenickie has stayed back a few times.) His date at the hop, Cha Cha is played by Lia Delsesto. They do a risque dance number and then she dances with Danny to win the dance contest. She appears later with her gang members to try to win Greased Lightning in a drag race. Johnny Casino, the singer at the hop is played by Jim Casey who gets to show off his voice in "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay", "Magic Changes", "Hound Dog" and the big dance number, "Hand Jive".

Their many friends are played by some talented performers, too. Danielle Towne plays boy crazy, Marty while food loving Jan is played by Lauren Cote and multi colored haired beauty school dropout,Frenchy is played by Gillienne Nadeau. The boys who moon the audience are played by Patrick Poole as Sonny, (who swears at the principal in Italian) Steve Michelson as Doody, (who has a crush on Frenchy) and James Gracik as Putzie. (who does a very hilarious dance at the hop and clumsily knocks Kenickie out before the big race) The teen Angel is played wonderfully by Dan Korn who gets to show off his strong singing voice in this song. The pesty, cheerleader Patty is played by Shayna D'Albora while school nerd Eugene is played by Aran Valente and fellow greaser, Craterface is played by Ben Scheff. Playing the adults are John Ricci as Mr. Lynch who cuts a mean rug at shows end, Roz Remington as Miss McGee, the school's principal who tries to keep things running smoothly, Alex Lorraine as Blanche, the school secretary who gets to dance with Sonny at the hop, Zarie Alhijanian as Miss Murdock, the shop teacher who helps the boys fix up their car and has some very funny lines, Paul Mancini as Coach Calhoun who leads the sports teams, David Olsen as Vince Fontaine, the naughty DJ who has the hots for young girls especially Marty and Janet Prichard as Vivian, the waitress at the kids favorite diner. Rounding out this cast are Michelle Dabeck, Genevieve Jussaume and Tegan Cerullo. So for an energy blast from the past be sure to catch "Grease" at the Greenwich Odeum.

"Grease" (21 - 30 November)
ACADEMY PLAYERS
Greenwich Odeum, 59 Main Street, EAST GREENWICH RI
1(401) 885-6910

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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