Theater review: ‘Grease’ is the word at the Fox Theatre


It was a hot weekend in Redwood City last week, and the jukebox musical “Grease” rolled into town to sputter along weekends at the Fox Theatre under the auspices of Broadway by the Bay.

For anyone old enough to remember the sizzling 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, well … this doesn’t come close to that iconic film. Nor to other Peninsula theater productions from years past. In fact, it’s so homogenized and subdued it might rightly be renamed “Congealed.”

There are a few remnants of the old “Grease” here: Several excellent performers, at least three well-choreographed production numbers and a decent-enough seven-piece orchestra. And it’s definitely family friendly; in fact, it’s so PG that even a 5-year-old wouldn’t be uncomfortable seeing it.

Good things first:

• Chelsey Ristaino, so good as the Narrator in BBB’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” switches it up here and is a terrifically bitchy Rizzo.

• Katharine Andrade is a sweet, caring Jan — who also dances and sings like a dream.

• David Blackburn, always good, turns in a remarkably insightful character part as Eugene Florczyk. Blackburn proves you don’t have to have a leading part to make an indelible impression.

• Daniel Lloyd Pias is only onstage for about four minutes, but he got a big ovation — he simply owned the musical part of Teen Angel.

The well-choreographed (by the tag team of Allison Paraiso and Zoe Swenson-Graham) production numbers:

• “We Go Together” featuring the Greasers and the “Pink Ladies.”

• Act 2’s “Born to Hand-Jive” featuring Vince and the Company.

• “You’re the One that I Want” with Danny, Sandy and the Company.

As the director, Alicia Jeffrey needs to find a way to generate some sparks in her actors — and in this pretty lame script which needs a lot of “juicing up” to even make it palatable. Her choices for the leads and other key parts are also suspect. There is so much talent in the Bay Area that someone more Danny-like than Alex Alvarez and more Sandy-like than Kylie Abucay has to be available.

It’s not that either one of them is horrible, although Abucay never seems comfortable in her role except when she sings (she has an excellent voice). When she dresses up as a “greaser” at the end of the show, she looks extremely ill at ease wearing oodles of makeup and bright red lipstick, leather jacket, skintight black shinny tights and hair all teased. As Shakespeare once said, “This above all: To thine ownself be true.”

Several other actors, however, do a solid job of being true to themselves. Among them: Nick Kenrick who, even when he’s not playing a piano and jumping all over it, is fine as the slick prom MC, Vince Fontaine; Nick Quintell is terrific as Jan’s singing, dancing (and smooching) partner; Breanna Van Gastel as Cha-Cha and Kate Byrd as funny, orange-haired Frenchy: both rock-solid.

But several things mar this version of “Grease” from a technical standpoint as well. Switching mics on and off was a huge problem at the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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