|Johnna Watson, Jack Rose, Keegan Luther, Taylor Penn (center) and Cast|
photo by Laura Durant
Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 19th.
"Short on plot but high on entertainment value, it's easy to see why Grease is such a beloved musical, continually produced in high schools and regional theatres. Chalk that success up to the popular film adaptation, the show's quirky characters, and a plot that touches upon some very adult topics. Greasepaint Youth Theatre's production wisely incorporates the songs written for the film and with talented leads it results in a fun romp....Set in 1959 at Rydell High School, the plot follows the sweet, yet square new girl in town Sandy and her summer boyfriend Danny Zuko whom she discovers also goes to Rydell. ...The show is really a series of vignettes, most capped off with a big song, that follow Danny and Sandy's attempt to get back together, along with a few smaller subplots that feature their friends. Jacobs and Casey's score is an homage to the pop rock songs of the '50s with the hit songs from the film...replacing their lesser original score counterparts for this production. ...The show tackles some very adult topics, including drinking, sex and pregnancy, though most of them are treated in a comical way. And while there are some plot holes and a slightly abrupt ending, with one of the main characters making a change that is completely out of character, the sensational score and the fun characters are why, I believe, this show is so beloved. Director Colin Ross has assembled a talented main cast all of whom have impressive vocal abilities and good acting chops that deliver believable characters. Jack Rose and Johnna Watson are a winning twosome as Danny and Sandy. ...Their acting abilities show the nuances of their roles, including Danny's softer side and the hurt that Sandy feels when she isn't treated nicely, and their voices soar in their songs. Taylor Penn and Keegan Luther are appropriately rough, tough and gritty as the smart-talking Rizzo and Kenickie, with Penn delivering a superb portrayal of this girl we realize also feels pain underneath her hard exterior. Luther is fun and funky as the car-loving man who leads the energetic "Greased Lighting." Matthew Villarreal delivers a sweet version of "Those Magic Changes," while Celine Sanel's "Freddy, My Love" is full of charm. ...My only quibble with the cast is that, at the performance I attended, some of the ensemble members were slightly out of sync in the choreography and appeared a bit too over the top a few times, which pulled focus from the leads. Emily Starrett's choreography is fun and infectious with varied and upbeat steps including a sensational high school dance sequence. ...While Grease may have a fairly simple plot it is full of energy, quirky characters, and many toe-tapping songs. With gifted leads, great costumes, and clear direction, Greasepaint's production of this popular musical makes for a very upbeat, fun and joyful time." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)