Theatre Mirror Reviews "Grease"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Welcome to the reunion of Rydell High School's class of 1959. We return to the high spirited class of gum chewing, hubcap stealing, hot rod loving boys with their D.A.'s and their wise-cracking girls in bobby socks and pedal pushers in a rollicking musical "Grease".Star Players summer production is "Grease" which ran on Broadway for 3388 record breaking performances. This version directed by James Beauregard, musically directed by Susan Alves with awesome choreography by Elizabeth Miles is a high energy hit from start to finish with their two story set, terrific costumes and lighting. Their expertise will take your breath away with all the songs and dance numbers. This outstanding presentation wins a thunderous ovation on a job very well done.

Jim infuses his cast with the high energy needed for these roles.He also makes a cameo appearance as the coach who Miss Lynch has a crush on. The show opens with Miss Lynch conducting the cast in "We Go Together" sung slowly in topnotch four part harmony. The dances by Elizabeth are astounding as are the musical numbers by Susan. The head hoodlum, Danny Zuko is excellently played by tall, dark and handsome,Sean Kaiser who is a terrific vocalist and dancer, too. He displays his vocal prowess in "Summer Nights", in "Sandy" when he is stuck at the drive-in movie, and "You're the One That I Want" when he and Sandy finally get together at last. These last two numbers show off his upper register splendidly. Sean has many funny scenes but the funniest is when he lights up a cigarette while running a race. He is also hilarious when he first sees Sandy dolled up in the last scene when he almost faints. The gorgeous blonde Alexandria Hassan plays Danny's sweet girlfriend, Sandy. Alexandria is marvelous in this role especially when she makes the transition from wholesome gal to trashy Pink Lady. Since this is a musical comedy this message of having to change yourself to fit in with the crowd should be taken in that context not in real life. Her voice soars in "Summer Nights", "It's Raining on Prom Night" and "You're the One That I Want". She is also hilarious in the cheer leading practice scene when she messes up the cheers. Alexandria and Sean have great chemistry as this couple and the audience roots for them to get their happy ending.

The hard hearted leader of the Pink Ladies, Betty Rizzo is well played by Haley Crowley. She dances up a storm and handles the both the comic and dramatic scenes with ease. Haley displays the comic ones with her sarcastic one liners. Unfortunately she had some vocal issues so "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" where Rizzo ponders the possibility of being pregnant was excellently sung by Johanna Mullen. She does a dynamite job with this number. Rizzo's hoodlum boyfriend, Kenickie is excellently played by Alex Fullerton. He swaggers about the stage wonderfully and does a dynamic job on his solo "Greased Lightening" which turns into a huge dance number. Alex and the boys dance over the whole stage area in this show stopping number. I first review Alex back in "School House Rock, Jr.'' back in 2007 when he was in sixth grade.

Their friends are wonderfully portrayed, too. Gorgeous, statuesque Alysson Duarte plays the sexy Marty who is in love with a Marine. She belts out "Freddy, My Love" while backed up by three girls ala the Supremes. I last reviewed Alysson as Jellylorum in "Cats" last year and as Hodel in "Fiddler" in 2012 at Star Players. Two more topnotch performers are Toni Graca who plays the constantly eating Jan and Kenny Donovan who plays her boyfriend, Roger who is known as Rump because he likes to moon people. Their duet "Mooning" stops the show with hilarity. They are both perfect in these roles. Sonny, the school mooch and cad is played perfectly by Aaron Mackisey. Sonny is always in trouble with Miss Lynch. Aaron has many one liners and makes them hit paydirt. Andrew Purdy who I have been reviewing in shows since he was 7 years old in 2004, plays the nervous and naive, Doody. He is terrific as he belts out his solo, "Magic Changes" backed up by the marvelous chorus. Andrew has matured into a well seasoned performer in these 10 years as have Alex and Alysson.Sarah Reed is a hoot as the bubble head, Frenchy who wants to drop out of high school and go to beauty school. She handles this dim bulb with ease.Sarah is hilarious and uses a Betty Boop voice as this character.

Dan Kozar is fabulous as Miss Lynch. He is dressed to the hilt and delivers his lines terrifically, leaving the audience rolling in the aisles at his hysterical performance. He also sings "Raining on Prom Night" with Sandy while he holds up the coach's photo. The three gals, Rachel Beauregard, Johanna Mullen and Chelsea Daniels who also sing "Prom Night" have wonderful voices, too.One of the many scene stealers is Conor Thaxter as Teen Angel who belts out "Beauty School Dropout" and also plays Johnny Casino who sings one of the best dance numbers "Born to Hand Jive". Other talented cast members include Chloe Carlston as Cha Cha, the tough chick who wins the dance contest with Danny, Jessica Luhman as the annoying cheerleader, Patty who has a crush on Danny and Alex Coutts as the class nerd, Eugene who is also an excellent dancer. They all are very comic in their roles. Kudos to the entire cast on a job well done. So for a fantastic rendition of this high energy entertaining 1950's musical, be sure to catch "Grease" at Star Players and if you miss it here later at Dean College. So be sure to catch it at either venue because it is definitely a hit show with tickets selling out before you know it.

"Grease" (11 - 20 July)
@ Star Players (1 - 10 August)
Croteau Theatre, 500 Norton Avenue, TAUNTON MA
@ Dean College (21 - 24 August)
109 West Central Street, FRANKLIN MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide