Grease is the timeless story of the romance of Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski and high school in the ‘50s. It is one of Broadway’s longest-running plays for a reason. The story transcends time and seems to capture the true spirit of fun.
While most eyes were on Sandy, the unintended star of the show turned out to be Betty Rizzo as played by Allie Schulz. Schulz took part in the reality show, Grease: You’re the One that I Want, and made it to the top three. She lit up the stage when she walked on and stole the spotlight with her extraordinary vocal control, especially during the song, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” The choreography in Grease was passable. What transformed it from simple steps to a lively, complex dance was how the cast managed to completely envelop the audience in the dance with their high energy and enthusiasm. The entire cast was highly attentive to the audience. The chemistry between Sandy, played by Lauren Ashley Zakrin, who was a contestant on MTV’s “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods,” and Danny, played by Eric Schneider, seemed authentic. The sets served their purpose well. They provided a good backdrop to the actors and managed to be colorful and bright, but did not distract from the true stars of the show.
However, Grease was not a hit all around. The script played to an older audience and some of the references were lost on the younger crowd. There was an attempt made to even out this discrepancy by having American Idol winner Taylor Hicks play Teen Angel but ultimately it failed. Though he is a talented singer, his voice was completely inappropriate for the role and it clashed against the other actors’ voices.
Though some in the audience came solely because of the success of the movie version of Grease, they stayed because the play was fresh and relevant and plain, pure, fun.
Nearly everyone knows what the musical Grease is all about. It’s the classic boy meets girl, loses her, and regains her tale. Danny, the leader of the T-Birds at Rydell High, meets a girl (Sandy Dumbrowski) over the summer and they experience “Summer Lovin’” together. Although, when school starts up again and he finds out that she will be attending with him, he immediately forsakes here because she doesn’t quite fit in with his crowd. She then transforms herself to fit his wants. Not the best message, but I guess it matches with the time period. Lovers of the 1978 movie Grease will love this production. The director, Kathleen Marshall, weaves in the hits from the movie, such as; “Sandy,” “Grease,” You’re The One That I Want,” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You” into the original musical. Danny’s gang at Rydell was originally called the ‘Burger Palace Boys,’ the director also chose to substitute that name for the ‘T-Birds,’ the more well known label. In fact, the production seemed to point right at those who love the movie.
Before the show started Vince Fontaine, played by Dominic Fortuna, did an act before the show started to get the audience warmed up while people were still finding their seats. His tactics worked for sure, he not only was hilarious and made fitting jokes, but he interacted with the audience. Vince made us get up and dance, and he even asked certain people personal questions. The night I went there were some people from Coon Rapids, and he jokingly made fun of them, and even later on in the show incorporated the joke into one of his scenes. The atmosphere before the show started was full of energy and joy because of how wonderful Vince was to us. When the show did start the audience roared as the opening number, "Grease” was performed. Lights were used heavily throughout the show and really added extra pizzazz, the costumes fit the time period perfectly, and the set was so well done that it seemed as though there were actually buildings on stage. Although, the cast was what really brought the show to it’s highest point.
The cast of Grease was so high energy! I have never seen such enthusiastic people on stage. You could tell that they were loving every minute of what they were doing. I particularly was blown away by Marty, played by Kelly Felthous; she had so much power and such a developed character that she stole the first act away. Even though her part wasn’t huge, she seemed to command the stage. It’s nice to know that even people with smaller parts can take the spotlight. I was also impressed with Frenchy, played by Kate Morgan Chadwick; she added a new take on the ever-sweet Frenchy. The way she portrayed her seemed to make her usually bubbly sweet personality slightly psychotic. Sandy had one heck of a voice, but I wasn’t taken aback by her character development. She seemed like the cookie-cutter version of Sandy, and I felt as though since so many other parts were a bit tilted, hers could be too. But overall, I was very happy with the cast.
Taylor Hicks (winner of “American Idol”) was featured as the Teen Angel that comes down and sings, “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchy. He added a new jazzy spice to the role and even played his signature harmonica near the end of his number. I liked his take on Teen Angel, but wasn’t alone in being disappointed by his impromptu concert after curtain call. Many of the audience members got up and left the theater after Vince Fontaine announced that Taylor would be coming out and playing a song. Although, I’m sure that the Taylor Hicks fans found it charming.
I was in general ecstatic with how Grease went. Knowing how hard it is to be an actor really adds insight as to knowing what goes on behind the scenes. This show had such high energy and lots of laughs. I would highly recommend it to anyone that has any sort of love for Grease, and even those who don’t, they will be in for a night of high energy and tons of fun.
Grease. The “classic” story of naughty teenagers, cars and rock and roll in the glorious 1950s, made tremendously popular by the film version in the late 70s. Always a fun show. Always with surprises, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
As much I love the pure guyhood and horny, crude humor of the T-Birds, the Pink Ladies kicked their butts in this show. I didn’t hate the T-Birds, but the girls were more entertaining, more captivating singers, and more enjoyable to watch all around. I definitely have sympathy for the guys, though. I’m a guy as well, and I also understand how difficult acting is. You just have to get out there and allow yourself to let go, let the magic of the stage propel you forward. They did it, but the ladies rose to the top. In my opinion, Marty (Kelly Felthous) stole the first act with her almost spastic leg and rigidly pointed toe flying through the air to land on top of the opposing leg to accomplish the simple task of cross them. Her rendition of Freddy My Love, one of my favorite songs from Grease, was energetic, a little sexy and fun. She was having a great time. The audience was having a great time. That’s the beauty of theater, isn’t it? Much to my disliking, she faded a bit in the second act. (That’s on purpose though; the second act is for the mending of Danny (Eric Schneider) and Sandy’s (Lauren Ashley Zarkin) broken hearts.) But that was when Frenchy (Kate Morgan Chadwick) busted out. She almost took the first act, too, actually. She great though. She brought the crazy lady to the stage very effectively. I love it. Frenchy’s off color comments in a shrill, piercing voice will make you chuckle at the least, especially when she’s being lectured musically by the Teen Angel (Taylor Hicks). (Which by the way, Taylor Hicks was a rather unnecessary addition to the cast. Yes, we all, or most of us know, he won American Idol. Big deal, I did not believe him to be that impressive of a singer. He flailed about the stage promoting himself.)
I would have to say "Greased Lightning" was the most visually spectacular number in the production. My mouth was hanging open from the gaudiness of the choreography and complexity of the bold, dynamic lighting. When Kenickie (David Ruffin) rolls the hunk of junk to center stage you think “How are they going to make a rusty convertible look nice? Roll it off stage, dance, and then roll another flame decaled one on. Weak.” No, apparently you make the stage rotate with the car on it and dance around it while it spins all the while removing the outside to reveal the innards: a lavish, red, flaming paint job. And then they keep dancing when the lights are streaming down in waves across the stage in red and then blue and then both moving side to side. Probably the most impressive number.
Basically, if have not had a good time in a long while, or have the dire need to smile it would not be a terrible idea to invest another night of your life with Grease. With this show’s creative use of both songs for the original musical (Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey) and songs written for the 1978 hit, I can comfortably say that director (and choreographer) Kathleen Marshall has done this classic justice. You will think so, too.
Grease, the twelfth longest running show on Broadway, is finally back in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theatre. This classic musical is shown in a new light when director-choreographer, Kathleen Marshall, brings in Taylor Hicks to play and perform as Teen Angel. Taylor stays true to his blues roots with his upbeat musical act, harmonica included. This well-known story is brought to life with a marvelous cast. This cast shows true talent with their successful performance that is not modernized to fit into the 21th century. The performance does use the many benefits of this new age in technology by utilizing lights, sounds and sets.
The play opens, well the house lights are still on, with Vince Fontaine addressing the theatre with a few audience participation activities that you can absolutely be late for.
For authenticity purposes, the costumes stay true to the styles and terms of the 1950s. The girls usually wore colorful bold sweaters with a matching long skirt. The shoe of choice was usually saddle shoes. Of course the beloved Pink Ladies wore their pink jackets with jeans. Many of the boys in the production wore bottom up, printed shirts with a pair of high rise slacks. The members of the T-birds usually wore their leather jackets, jeans and of course, greased up hair. I felt like the costumes, among other things, brought nostalgic feelings to many members of the audience that experienced the joys of what is said to be one of the best decades to have grown up in.
The lighting in this production is fully adaptable to the many changing sets and moods of Grease. The lighting in many of the school scenes is very cheerful. It gives off the feeling of a playful, happy high school that one of Rydell High's statures would definitely feel like. The lighting for most of the solo musical acts is usually blue which makes the scene seem more dramatic. The light transitions were very blended which did not give and surprises, but was a good effect. The only transition that was troublesome was in act I, scene 3 when Doody too suddenly changes from a boy struggling to learn to play the guitar into a superstar that all the girls love.
The sets were kept basic, with an old fashion well that brought the audience back to the 1950s. Songs like, "Summer Nights" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You" called for the stage to be divided into two parts which surprisingly worked well to portray two totally different places. The piece used in Scene 3 when Teen Angel, Taylor Hicks performs "Beauty School Dropout" is very versatile and transformed from the ice cream shop into an elaborate stage for the 'definitely don't run to the bathroom' performance.
The well known and adored songs of Grease captured the audience's hearts and made them sing along. This classic musical is not one to miss and feel free to come back again for more Grease memories.
Last Wednesday, our theater class attended the opening night performance of Grease. This classic musical has had many variations through the years but the version we saw felt very fresh. Overall, I loved this performance of Grease but there were a few flaws. I found this version of Grease to be very entertaining because of its amazing musical numbers, but a few of the actors had noticeable flaws and the ending of the play made it feel too much like a Taylor Hicks concert.
The musical number that stood out to me the most in the play was Greased Lighting because of its fantastic use of colorful props. In Greased Lightning, an old rusty Junker was quickly transformed into a brand new, brightly shining red hot rod. It was definitely eye catching. The singing in this musical number was also exceptional as the voices of David Ruffin (Kenickie) and Eric Schneider (Danny) added a great deal to this already magical musical number. This was definitely the highlight of the show for me.
However, some of the actors had major flaws. I had felt that one of the main characters in the play, Sandra D, was miss-cast. Lauren Ashley Zarkin played Sandra D in this version of Grease and she just did not seem fit to play Sandra D. In the musical Grease, Sandra D makes a major change from a preppy, "do-goody" teen to a leather clad bad girl. However, it did not feel like she was ready for the big change by the end of the play. It had felt like there was little-to-no character development between the beginning of the play and the end of the play. This made the ending of Grease feel very unrealistic do to the actors quick mood change and had kind of ruined the ending for me.
Many people were drawn to this play by the inclusion of Taylor Hicks. In this version of Grease, Taylor Hicks was cast as Teen Angel. It was obvious by the end of the play that the directors had only cast him because of his American Idol fame. He was pretty good in the role but I am almost absolutely sure that they could have cast someone else as a better Teen Angel. The thing that made really wish the he was not cast as Teen Angel was his shameless promotional encore for his new album. By the ending of the play, it had felt like a Taylor Hicks concert and this was a real turn off for me. If you do go to this version of Grease for a reason other than Taylor Hicks, I would suggest that you leave early.
I was overall entertained by Grease, but I had felt like it had some casting issues. If you are a huge Grease fan I would defiantly suggest seeing this musical. It breathes fresh life into a classic musical and the performances felt close enough to the classics to seem enjoyable. However, if you are not a Grease fan, I would suggest skipping this musical and saving your money on something else.
I am one of those few, hard to find people, who have never actually seen the movie Grease. I might have seen a couple of famous scenes, but other than that, I've never seen the movie. Therefore, I really had nothing to compare the show, Grease, to. Of course I knew the basic story line: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall dangerously in love but something stands in the way of their love, and in the end they must overcome it. The show Grease is full of famous numbers and dance moves that everyone can enjoy.
The most interesting character in Grease, to me, is Betty Rizzo. Sandy is the typical, nice, new girl who’s sweet and innocent and shy, but her character seems 2-Dimensional to me, she doesn’t pop like Betty Rizzo. Betty Rizzo has so many sides, she’s the tough, sexy, bad girl, she’s the jealous, threatened mean girl, and deep inside she’s the hurt, misunderstood girl trying to put up a front that she can’t keep up much longer. The latter of these sides is seen for the first and only time in a scene featuring the number “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” Allie Schulz sang Rizzo’s confession with so much emotion, it seemed so much more real than the glamour and comedy of the rest of the show. Schulz also did everything in a Rizzo-like way. The way she talked, walked, sat, danced, simply everything about her screamed “I don’t care what people think of me, so don’t mess with me!” Which is exactly the kind of attitude Rizzo takes on life.
One mistake I noticed about the directing of the show is the focus of it. I feel like they down-played parts of the plot, like the tension between the preps and the rebels, to make room for sexing up the whole show. In the 50’s, I don’t think teenagers would have been so open with their sexuality as they were in the show. Everything was so out in the open, it seemed the like the plot was sort of lost in it. Instead of making it seem like rebellious behavior was looked down upon, it actually seemed like it was supported back then, and I don’t really think that was true back then.
My favorite scene in the show was “Greased Lightning” where they transform Kenickie’s broke down convertible, into a gorgeous, shiny, red beauty named “Greased Lightning.” For a while you don’t even realize that the car is being transformed, but suddenly the old rusty paint is replaced with shiny red and fiery flames. Kenickie is then the king of the world on top of the car, and they continue to dance to the famous number, it was fun and entertaining to watch, it made you want to dance in your seat.
Over all, I thought the show was good. Some parts of Grease have always bothered me, I’ve never really liked that Sandy has to change into someone else at the end of the show, and they could have done a better job at making it a more gradual change inside her than such a sudden change, but other than that it was such an enjoyable show. It was easy and entertaining to watch this cute, light, and simple portrayal of teenage love.
Dove Bonet Barnes
Overall, I enjoyed the musical Grease, because it was flashy and nicely written. The performers were nothing short of on-point, and it’s a good musical to go and see with a bunch of friends if you want to laugh, sing along, and just straight up have a good rollicking time. I absolutely loved the music, setting and costumes. I did, however wonder a little bit about the message that the musical was getting across.
The first number sung by the company, “Grease”, fell a little flat with me, though I did like it. I was just kind of expecting the opening number to be this flashy, bopping number, but none such luck. But they did make up for it with “Summer Nights”, which was the second number. I felt that Sandra Dee’s (played by Lauren Ashley Zakrin) song “Hopelessly Devoted” was simply amazing; I thought her performance was powerful and flawless. She possibly handles ballads a little better? Danny Zuko’s (played by Eric Schneider) song “Sandy” was excellent, because he made it his own. As for Taylor Hicks as the Teen Angel in the number “Beauty School Dropout” (who didn’t even have that big of a role to have the hype that he does) his number went well, one could tell that he was having fun, so that’s what kept my interest.
The setting wasn’t hectic to look at, which was good. It was simple yet bright enough to keep your attention. For example, Marty’s (played by Kelly Felthous) bedroom was, I’m sure, every little girl’s dream. It was pink and frilly; girly to the max. The Burger Palace was cool because it had the sci-fi-ish thing going on, which was a bit popular in the 50s. The lights were nice, too. Flashy and spectacular, which keeps one interested. I could not fall asleep during that show.
The costumes, I thought, were true to the era. Short little pajamas bottoms and curlers, high waisted pants, and pastels. Leather jackets (definitely the James Dean thing) and slicked back hairstyles. The dresses were big and animated, much like the dresses of that era (think Marilyn Monroe).