Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Grease"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Larry Stark


"Grease"

Music, Book, and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Directed by Ernest J. Medeiros
Musical Direction by Scott Morency
Choreography by Jennifer Gillis

Set Design by David Jepson, Ernest J. Medeiros
Light Design by David Jepson
Costume Design by Beth Jepson, Pat Plante
Hair Stylist Jason Palin
Stage Manager Edith Fatigato

Miss Lynch................Maria Sepe Tavarozzi
Eugene Florczik................Jason Palin
Patty Simcox..................Raina Grigelevich
Roger...............................Justin Jutras
Jan..........................Taryn Mallard-Reid
Doody.....................David J. Tessier
Frenchy...................Laura-Lee Dillon
Sonny..................Bernardo Santana, Jr.
Marty..........................Rebecca Jane Morse
Kenickie.......................Michael DiMascolo
Betty Rizzo...................Nicole Dufour
Danny Zuko.................Greg "Spaz" Gillis
Sandy Dumbrowski.......Jill pinto
Vince Fontaine.....................Jeremy Marquard
Johnny Casino......................Scott Morency
Cha Cha DiGregorio......Wendy Pennington

Orchestra
Keyboard.............Scott Morency
Bass................Brian Grochowski
Guitar......................John Baldala


I graduated high school in 1950 and when my peer-group discovered Elvis Presley and rock I veered toward Bix Beiderbecke and jazz. Looking back, I have come to regard the 1950s --- those golden years of my coming of age --- as the artistic armpit of the 20th century, the time when attitude replaced character, when spending money on things defined status, and when being like everyone else only better was the name of the game. It remained for Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey to wad up the essence of those years, warts and all, from saddle-shoes to making-out, into a musical called "Grease" that accurately displays the brash adolescent insecurities rampant in that rowdy decade when everyone in America was in high school. And they make it all come alive again down in Pawtucket.

The crew Ernest J. Madeiros has assembled in the huge, high-ceilinged Elks Lodge hall has captured not what teen-agers were in those years, but what they thought they were: crueller, raunchier, more experienced and rebellious, less inhibited than they would ever have been in real life. But what they add is a reckless energy and lust for life that those years can have only in misty recollection.

What plot there is charts a bumpy course of true-love pummelled on all sides by peer pressures and fears of looking un-cool. Of course Sandy Dumbrowski (Jill Pinto)and Danny Zuko (Greg Gillis) are destined for each other, but catch them admittin' it? No way! She's too Parochial-School pure, he's too King of The Road to let on they've had a thing for each other after meeting last summer --- each pretending to be something they're not. Which one will conform to the other's image is all that's at stake.

And it must be noted that in this adolescent fantasy-land virginity is treated less like a virtue than as a commodity to be offered only to the highest of bidders. Betty Rizzo (Nicole Dufour) and her Pink Ladies are players in this commodity game as are the Burger Palace Boys in their identical leather jackets, perennially combing their slickly gleaming locks. It's all attitude anyway, isn't it?

Rather than a send-up of the times, this cast launches themselves so eagerly into their roles and at one another, belting out strings of nonsense-syllables, zinging put-downs and staging gross-out contests with sweaty energy and pure animal joy that lights their faces and pulses through every dance-step and insult fest. Each one of them, from Michael DiMascolo as Kenickie, a kid in love with his car, to Laurie-Lee Dillon's Frenchy who can't even hack Beauty School, is a solidly alive individual, even when merged into Jennifer Gillis' ensemble dances that rock, rattle and roll to a huge three-piece band.

This is a short, solid show, but someone has provided an overlong introduction in which the dragon English teacher Miss Lynch (Maria Sepe Tavarozzi) prowls the audience singling out individuals as aged alums of Rydel High back for a reunion of their 1959 class. The double-entendre insults are rarely successful, and no attempt has been made to pretend these adults could in any way be specific characters from the play. The over-long imitation of Don Rickles serves only to delay the onslaught of the energized cast in all their '59 glory.

Still, this show's got a great beat.
And they certainly can dance to it!
I'd give it a.....seventy-nine!

Love,
===Anon.


"Grease" (till 9 November)
CITY NIGHTS DINNER THEATER
27 Exchange Street, PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
1(401)723-6060

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |