Reviewed by Tony Annicone
North End Players current production of "Grease", a fun filled musical parody of the 1950's, is presented with a high energy cast of 19. Director Dina Cataldi does double duty in this show not only directing it but playing the role of Frenchy, too. She casts the show with talented singers, dancers and actors making the audience join in the nostalgia of the era from start to finish especially in the best choreographed number in the show, "Born to Hand Jive".
The two leads play their roles beautifully. Ralph Bruno as the swaggering lady's man, Danny Zuko and Jennifer Cardarelli as the at first wholesome, Sandy Dumbrowski are winning as the young couple in and out of love. They handle their duets, "Summer Nights" and "All Choked Up" as well as his solo, "Alone At theDrive-in-Movie" (a funny song) and her solo, "Since I Don't Have You" (a poignant ballad) splendidly, showing off their strong singing voices. Jen's transformation at the end works out well to show how she has changed since she first met Danny. Both young performers have a lot of talent to go far in show biz.
Kenickie and Rizzo are excellently portrayed by Taylor Brennan and Marissa Beatini. Taylor plays the foul mouth hood selling his song about his car "Greased Lightnin'" to the audience. He also brings another girl to the prom to make Rizzo jealous which shows the fickle behavior of teens in love. Marissa is a dynamic actress and makes Rizzo shine all night long. Her powerful rendition of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" is a show stopper withits warmth and depth. Marissa sings the comic, "Sandra Dee" and Lightnin reprise (she thinks the car is a piece of junk) wonderfully, too. Taylor and Marissa are two more young, talented pros in this show.
Supporting cast members are given a chance to shine in their individual numbers.Will Beatini's powerful, superb voice knocks the socks off the audience in his "Magic Changes" number. He plays the comical Doody who drops things and trips over his own feet. His date in the show is Frenchy, a blond bimbo who drops out of school to attend beauty school. Unfortunately she flunks out of beauty school, too. Dina, the director, shows her depth of talent playing this ditsy girl with a high pitched voice. She reminds one of a younger version of Judy Holliday.
The next couple, Roger (Kevin Swiczewicz) and Jan (Jen Nelson) bring the house down with the "Mooning" song. Kevin makes the character of the constantly swearing character called Rump, a laugh riot. He moons the audience by himself and later on in the show has help from Will and Mike with their moons shone to the crowd, too. Jen plays his constantly eating girlfriend making them the couple you can laugh out loud at.
Jessica Morris, a beautiful red head, plays Marty who is in love with her marine, beau called Freddy. She does a gorgeous job on "Freddy My Love" and shows her dancing talents throuoghout the show. Mike Phillips plays Sonny, big man on campus who is always getting into trouble. He makes this over confident character come to life and helps round out the younger talented male cast members.
The overbearing teacher, Miss Lynch is played by the human dynamo, Kristina Bert. She scolds the crowd and helps keep things in order. Kristina delivers her funny lines and keeps everyone laughing. Her teacher's pets are played by Kayleigh Prime (Patty Simcox, the head cheeeerleader) and Wilson Fermin (Eugene, the class nerd) They both have comic moments especially when Patty is punched in the eye and Eugene is tripped by the boys. Another adult cast member who helps keep the crowd's attention uring scene changes is Anthony Manzo as Vince Fontaine. He plays this dirty old man hitting on the high school chicks cahracter hilarious. He also interacts with the audience and at one point danced with some of them and on some of them leading to much laughter.
Rounding out this talented cast is Billy Flynn as Johnny Casino, the singer at the prom, Corissa Nadrowski as Cha-Cha, the obnoxious dancing partner of Danny who steals all the prizes, Bill Beatini as Teen-Angel who sings a song to get Frenchy to go back to high school and Sara O'Malley and Stacy Souza who play multiple roles as chorus members. So for a trip back to Rydell High School in 1959 go see the North End Players, "Grease". ( Kudos to producers Bill Beatini and Lynn Nadrowski, choreographer, Kathie Morris and her assistants, and technical director, Dennis Pouliot and his helpers and everyone who worked to make the show a success).