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Grease | Stages St. Louis

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The beauty of Grease is the way the story revolves around so many larger-than-life characters.

 

Book, Music, & Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Directed by Michael Hamilton
Through August 20, 2006

Stages St. Louis is taking St. Louis back to the days of poodle skirts and teen idols with the second production of their 20th season, Grease. The legendary Broadway play that later became the mega box-office smash is a virtual time capsule focusing on the lives, loves, and tribulations of the teens who inhabited the halls of Rydell High. The story has something for everyone: a summer love story between Danny Zuko (Derek Keeling) and Sandy Dumbrowski (Hollie Howard); a teen pregnancy scare involving Rizzo (Cindy Marchionda) and her hot-to-trot boyfriend Kenickie (Jim Sorensen); and a big dance sequence highlighting the fantastic music of the genre. Coupled with an arsenal of unforgettable musical numbers, Grease is the quintessential look at life in the ‘50s, when kids had school pride and the public actually trusted its government.

The beauty of Grease is the way the story revolves around so many larger-than-life characters. While Keeling and Howard were merely average in the "lead" roles, the rest of the cast picked up the slack by turning in some very impressive performances. Marchionda was excellent as Rizzo, giving her role every ounce of manipulation and harshness it required. Likewise, both Jenna Coker and Heather Jane Rolff nailed down their roles as Frenchie and Jan, respectively, showcasing their terrific comedic timing and giving their characters a hint of vulnerability.

The real surprises of the production came from performers with minor roles. Christopher Kale Jones (Doody) made the most of his role by giving one of the best vocal performances of the entire production on "Those Magic Changes." The number nearly brought the house down and deservedly so; this boy has a voice that has to be heard. Taking on the role of Cha-Cha Digregorio, Annie Funke rocked the crowd with her over-the-top presentation. Proving that good things come in small packages, this little lady should be put in jail for theft, as she nearly stole the show. With those stellar performances in mind, the best scene-stealer was Keldon Lavar Price in the role of Teen Angel. Price's passionate and soulful rendition of "Beauty School Dropout," one of the show's best numbers, was priceless. The man packed more energy and passion in this one song than some of the leads did throughout their entire performance.

As expected, the technical aspects of the show were all first class. Vince Pesce filled the production with breathtaking choreography, especially on the more complicated numbers like "Greased Lightning" and the crowd favorite, "Born to Hand Jive." Mark Halpin delivered his typical, brilliant set design full of colorful scenery and eye-catching designs. For costume design, Myron Elliott, Jr.'s attention to detail was fantastic, all the way down to the T-Bird's Chuck Taylor high tops. 

Stages St. Louis' production of Grease proves that details make the difference. Even though the leads managed to get the broad strokes down, it was the rest of the cast and the technical crew that make this performance one not to miss.

Stages St. Louis presents Grease through August 20 at the Robert G. Reim Theater, located at 111 S. Geyer Rd. Tickets are $45 for the general public and $42 for those patrons 65 & over. For a complete listing of performance times and to purchase tickets, please visit their Web site, or call the box office at 314-821-2407 to purchase tickets by phone.

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