by Gerry Roe
The current production of Grease at Old Creamery Theatre could appropriately be subtitled “Exuberant Enthusiasm.” The young actors seem incredibly dedicated to the script and the 1950’s songs and general atmosphere prevalent in the early days of rock and roll. From the first really important song, “Summer Nights,” to the final number, a reprise of “We Go Together,” the level of enthusiasm never lets up.
But first a word about the grown-ups in the show. Two of the Old Creamery regulars, Marquetta Senters as school principal Miss Lynch, and Sean McCall as Vince Fontaine, a local disc jockey, enter into the spirit of the show and display a matching enthusiasm. Miss Lynch, who opens the show with Rydell High School’s “Alma Mater” and who as one of the faculty chaperones at the Prom imbibes a little too freely of the spiked punch, is perfect in her demeanor and, aided by her costumes, enlivens the humor of the show. Sean McCall’s DJ in a fantastic 50’s wig joins Senters in showing that life after high school is not so very different from the lives of the class of 1959. Separately and together they illustrate the versatility and comic skill that has made them Old Creamery favorites.
Anyone familiar with the show knows that the central love story is the attraction between Sandy Dumbrowski (Cassie Thompson) and Danny Zuko (Conor Schultz). Sandy is a new student, recruited by the Pink Ladies to join their group, about which she has mixed feelings. The Pink Ladies are Jan (Cassie Gress), Marty (Katie Colletta), Frenchy (Carin Lagerberg), and the firebrand Betty Rizzo (Sarah Hoch). The Pink Ladies function as the dominant group of senior girls, but they are almost always accompanied by cheerleader Patty Simcox (Lindsey Cline), whom the Pink Ladies seem to tolerate and who tries unsuccessfully to recruit Sandy to the cheerleading squad. Patty is most evidently not one of the “in crowd” of the Pink Ladies. She is often seen with Eugene (James Tarrant), who is a student body leader, but is not accepted by the crowd of Burger Palace Boys, played by Keegan Christopher, Kent Reynolds and Ben Cramer. Their leader, the auto-loving Kenicke (Jim Vogt), leads the group in a song about his much-used car which he calls “Greased Lightning.” J. Morgan Shaffo plays Cha Cha DiGregorio, who is first heard as a voice on the radio but who emerges at the prom to display her love for dancing, especially the cha-cha.
Each member of the ensemble makes a strong contribution, but Betty Rizzo’s songs are a standout. She parodies Sandy Dumbrowski in the song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” and reveals much about her character in the song “There are Worse Things I Could Do.” Sarah Hoch’s strong voice and sensible phrasing make each of these numbers memorable.
Keegan Christopher and Katie Colletta are responsible for the choreography which is brisk, clean, and clearly reminiscent of the 1950’s. Though these students are the class of 1959, I was a member of the class of 1958 and the choreography and singing of the ensemble takes me back to my own high school days. Whenever you graduated or will graduate from high school, this is a show you will wholeheartedly enjoy. There are plenty of laughs and occasional tender, touching moments to make high school and high school students remarkably attractive.
Grease continues through October 2 at Old Creamery Theatre. Tickets available here.