Category Archive for: ‘Greg & Suzanne Angeo’
Run Extended Through July 13
Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo
Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
Photos by Eric Chazankin
Love That Greasy Kid Stuff
Comparing 1950s street gangs with the gangs onstage in “Grease” is like comparing a Siberian tiger with Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. One could cause you trouble, the other is harmless and adorable. And like Tigger, “Grease” at 6th Street Playhouse is cheerful and full of delightful bounce.
Chicago composers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey created “Grease” based on high school life and love in the age of rock ‘n’ roll. It was first produced in Chicago in 1971 as a play with threatening characters and little music, but found new life on Broadway in 1972 when it was re-written as a full-bore musical. The tiger was tamed; the sharp edges were shaved off and the characters made into a bunch of raunchy, loveable kids. It was a smash hit, with over 3380 performances, garnering several Tony nominations.
“Grease” tells the story of the budding romance between Danny, the leader of the Burger Palace Boys gang, and “good girl” Sandy, who’s the new kid in town. Peer pressure exerts itself when they go back to school at the end of summer, especially when Sandy joins the girl-gang Pink Ladies. Sandy’s true love Danny is performed by Anthony Guzman. He takes command of the stage and is at the top of his game. Though he holds back in front of his buddies to maintain his tough-guy image, Guzman ably presents Danny’s softer side.
Kayla Kearney is Rizzo, the smokin’ leader of the Pink Ladies. Rizzo is street-wise and cracks wise, but Kearney lets her girlish vulnerability show in her relationship with Danny’s buddy Kenickie. Kearney is outstanding in every number, especially two solos, “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” and “There are Worse Things I Could Do”. Played with nonstop energy by Trevor Hoffmann, Kenickie is all rough edges but very protective of Rizzo. Hoffmann skillfully walks the high-wire between comic and romantic in a superb feature performance.Amanda Pedersen is notable as the wholesome and awkward Sandy. A show-stopping singer, Pedersen really shines and displays her character’s emotions best in the musical numbers, like “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. But when Sandy finally decides to let it all hang out and goes from flats to stilettos, she needs to change more than her shoes. Raw, uninhibited energy is needed to take it to the next level, and generate that new blast of explosive chemistry between her and Danny. Boy-crazy Marty, one of the Pink Ladies, is played by the consistently remarkable April Krautner. Marty is the kind of girl who keeps a cache of photos and love letters in shoeboxes under her bed, carefully organized and labeled with the names of her many romantic conquests. While performing her pajama party song “Freddy My Love”, Krautner manages to sing and chew gum at the same time, a remarkable feat and one of the best numbers in the show.
The frisky ensemble players provide excellent support in song and dance, keeping the energy high and the fun non-stop. Staci Arriaga as director/choreographer does a commendable job staging the large cast. The strong opening sequence as groups come onstage one by one to establish their characters, and the little bits of business throughout lend very nice touches. She may have borrowed too much from the film in some places and it would have been nice to see a little more originality, like in the final scene that includes the dazzling number “You’re the One That I Want”. The choreography worked here but it was safe and could use a little innovation. Fabulous period costumes are by Barb Beatie. Somewhere she found a trunkful of poodle skirts, saddle shoes and Sir Guy shirts and made the show look late-1950s authentic. If you want a sure thing, this is it. You can’t go wrong with this lively, sweet and funny show.
When: Now through July 13, 2014
8:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday
2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Tickets: $15 to $35
Location: GK Hardt Theater at 6th Street Playhouse
52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA