|They Go Together: “Grease,” at the Prospect Park Auditorium through July 18|
|Theatre - Reviews|
|Written by Thom White|
|Monday, 12 July 2010 06:00|
I approached Thursday's preview performance of Quad City Music Guild's Grease with preconceived opinions, not the least of which was that Grease is one of the few stage musicals that greatly improved in its transition to film. Not one of the half-dozen or so stage productions of this 1950's-themed high school musical I'd seen convinced me that the show was much good in its theatrical form; at best, I hoped for some notable performances in a musical I still wouldn't like. I didn't expect that great performances from the entire cast would have me re-thinking my entire opinion of Grease. They did.
Directed by Harold Truitt, much of the thrill of Music Guild's production lies in its pacing, especially in the first act. The show reached intermission before I expected it, leaving me a bit disappointed that I had to wait to continue on this fantastic theatrical ride. The second act hits a few minor pacing bumps, with lengthier scene changes and dialogue passages accompanying the plot holes and less linear storyline developments - some of the reasons I've long disliked the show. Yet while it was less well-paced in spots, Act II had no less energy than Act I, and carried this romping good time through to the end.
Music Guild's Grease is just so much fun, with a cast that seems to be having a good time making it so. As Danny, Andy Gibb Clark manages to balance a wide-eyed, uninhibited wonder during his scenes with Taylor Wiebers' Sandy, offering an aloof, condescending cockiness when his character is mugging for his buddies. While he had some pitch problems at times, Clark showcased great vocal tone, particularly on his "Alone at a Drive-In-Movie" solo. And Wiebers doesn't miss a wholesome or pure note as Sandy. Still in high school herself, Wiebers' singing ability, in my opinion, rivals some of the more seasoned singers who've graced the Prospect Park stage.
The production's Pink Ladies, meanwhile, are deliciously delightful. Angie Mitchum is stunningly too-cool-for-school as Rizzo. and while her "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" starts off nicely enough, it soars when the actress lets loose and belts her way through the song's deeper emotions. (The only thing that distracted me in Mitchum's performance was her tendency to drop her character's aloof personality when singing in ensemble numbers.) Amber Vick's Frenchy is adorable in her naiveté, while Alexa Harris is notable for her consistent faux sophistication as Marty. It's Lisa Groves, however, who is easily the crowd favorite with her unassuming, happy-go-lucky Jan. She's funny in a truly charming way.
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