GREASEBook, Music and Lyrics—Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
“Grease”—Words and Music by Barry Gibb
“Hopelessly Devoted To You”—Written by John Farrar
“You’re The One That I Want”—Written by John Farrar
“Sandy”—Written by Scott Simon and Louis St. Louis
Granbury Theatre Company
Director –Bentleigh Nesbit
Music Director—Greg Doss
Chroreography—Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis and Rebecca Ford
Scenic Designer—Wendy Searcy-Woode
Lighting Designer—Kalani Morrissette
Sound Designer – Kyle Hoffman
Costume Designer—Drenda Lewis
CAST (at reviewed performance)
Danny Zuko—Bryson Petersen
Sandy Dumbrowski—Delaney Wenger
Betty Rizzo—Micaiah Armstrong
Sonny Latierri—Calder Meis
Patty Simcox—V Kyle Tyson
Eugene Florczyk—Bradley McKinney
Vince Fontaine—Nathan Early
Johnny Casino—Matt Beutner
Teen Angel—Matt Beutner
Miss Lynch—Jenna Redmond
Dance Captain—Stevie Simmons
Dance Corps—Bailey Brewer, Levi Casler, Brandi Giles, Bradley Kelm, Ben Larson,
Autumn McKee, Britton Melton, Stevie Simmons
“Beauty School Dropout” Dancers—Jessica Cope, Natalie Guess, Tiffany Marie Hyatt, Devon Kleine, Madelyn Myers, Sam Shephard, McKayla Winn
Ensemble—Andy Alamo, Ashley Anderson, Jessica Cope, Sydney Hamil, Tiffany Marie Hyatt, Devon Kleine, Tyler K Krumm, Madelyn Myers, Cole Brayton Lucas, Ryan McAvoy, Marissa Nelson, Jack Snyder, McKayla Winn
Reviewed Performance: 6/9/2019
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Premiering in 1971, and written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease follows ten working-class teenagers in 1959, at the fictional Rydell High School, where they explore the issues of peer pressure, teenage pregnancy, rebellion, love, friendship, gang violence, the growing pains of adolescence. Initially, Grease was a raunchy and vulgar show, and has become toned down over the years. Set these issues to the early sounds of 1950’s rock and roll, and of course, you have the formula for a hit stage musical. It was also adapted into a film in 1978, with an all-star cast consisting of John Travolta as Danny Zuko, Olivia Newton-John as Sandy, and Frankie Avalon as the Teen Angel. A perennial favorite of theatre-goers, and film fans alike, Grease has become one of those musicals with instantly recognizable, sing-a-long songs, and a large fan base.
What I found to be most intriguing was the inclusion of some of the film numbers into the stage production. There were many numbers (“Sandy”, “Hopelessly Devoted…”, “You’re the One That I Want”, and of course, the title track “Grease”) that were written specifically for the film, have made their way into this stage production. For those that are fans of the original stage production, you will find that some of the songs from the original have been omitted in favor of popular songs from the film. I did enjoy experiencing and seeing these musical numbers live on stage, as it was a nice homage to the film-that was one of the first musical films my Dad introduced me to as a child; perhaps giving me the appreciation and love for musical theatre that I have now.
Director Bentleigh Nesbit brought together a large ensemble cast of actors who seemed to work well together. While there were some apparent rocky spots (slow and muddled transitions) and intermittent issues with audio and microphones (ever thus in the theatre it seems). Despite these overt issues, Nesbit was able to create a cohesiveness and some nice moments of chemistry and ensemble within the large cast. There were moments that left me much to be desired (the transformation of ‘nice’ Sandy into ‘cool’ Sandy) and also moments of beauty and humor on stage (“Beauty School Dropout”). I can only imagine the difficult undertaking that any director would have when mounting such a large and well-known production as Grease.
It can be a difficult task to take on a show as recognizable as Grease; due to the sheer fact that it may not be, the same as audience remember. However, I am certain that as the production gains momentum, and gets further into its production run, these flaws will work themselves out-as is the case with most productions early in the run. Set Designer Wendy Searcy-Woode successfully transformed the proscenium stage into the multiple locations in the story. From the halls of Rydell High School (which served as the central location), and smaller suggestive elements of other locations (Burger Palace, and the Drive-in), the sets were exactly what I would expect from a 1950’s musical. Each location was given a great attention to detail. From the trophy cases on the walls of Rydell High, to the quintessential school club and organization advertisements in the halls of the school, it is evident that Ms. Searcy-Woode spent a great deal of time working on a versatile, yet effective set for the production.
Costumes were designed by Drenda Lewis. In the same style as the scenic designs, Ms. Lewis brought color, texture, and detail to the production with her wardrobe. The costumes matched the entire concept of the production. It was impressive to see how the wardrobe successfully created each character, and helped to define their role in the story. Each character from the T-Birds and Pink Ladies, to the students at Rydell High School all had a different look, which helped to paint a visual picture of each character and their role in the story. Costumes were full of color, and were very reminiscent of what I would have expected to see teenagers wear in the 1950’s. I especially loved Ms. Lewis’ use of glitter in Johnny Casino’s tri-color jacket, and the rhinestones in the costume of the Teen Angel. I am dying to know where I can find wardrobe like that! I am a fan of all things glittery and sparkly! Fabulous!
Bryson Petersen was phenomenal in the role of Danny Zuko. Mr. Petersen delivered a spot on, and enthusiastic performance full of energy, intensity and honesty. Not only did Mr. Petersen deliver with an incredible singing voice, but, he also delivered with his chemistry on stage with his fellow T-Birds. There was a fantastic ensemble between the men. It was very comical, loveable, and dynamic. Some of the best musical moments for Mr. Petersen was his rendition of “Sandy,” and “Summer Nights.” He paid a nice tribute to a young John Travolta, while putting in originality and a creative stamp on the role.
Sam Shephard was fantastic in the role of chubby, but loveable Pink Lady, Jan. Not only did she have fantastic facial expressions, but, she carried the role with charisma, and enthusiasm. One of the best numbers of the production was “Mooning,” a delightful and humorous duet with Roger (played wonderfully by Chase Williams.) Her role was full of energy, and certainly stood out in an ensemble of so many actors. Brava, Ms. Shephard.
Another standout was Matt Beutner in the role of the Teen Angel. Not only did Mr. Beutner deliver a comical performance, his vocal delivery was phenomenal! Mr. Beutner brought energy, and humor to a song that I would often “fast-forward” through on the video tape (that is certainly a comment about my age, isn’t it?). Mr. Beutner’s mannerisms, and comic timing was consistent throughout the number. With his boyish charm, I am confident in saying that Mr. Beutner stole the show with his portrayal of the Teen Angel-the most memorable and enjoyable moment of the production for me.
Portraying the role of Rizzo was Micaiah Armstrong. Usually considered the “fun role” (as with most characters of little moral fiber), Rizzo provides the show’s moral conflict as she unapologetically walks through the world of “sin.” She stopped the show with the heart-wrenching “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” Ms. Armstrong provided moments of much needed humor in some of the more dramatic scenes, and filled the theater with her rich and skilled vocal talents. Ms. Armstrong was full of energy, and magnetism on stage.
While the majority of the company delivered with their portrayal of characters, I was slightly unmoved by Delaney Wenger’s depiction of Sandy Dumbrowski. While she had a marvelous singing voice, her characterization seemed very flat, and changed very little from the beginning to the end. One of the key characteristics of Sandy’s character is the large transformation from ‘nice Sandy’ to ‘cool Sandy’ to fit into Danny’s crowd of friends. Ms. Wenger delivered with her vocal talents and dance talents, but, fell short in the acting category during this performance.
This production of Grease is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the film. Grease is one of those productions that everyone should see. It is a modern-day classic of American musical theatre. I will caution you; however, this production may not be appropriate for younger audience members due to some of the content. If you are looking for a fun afternoon of light entertainment- I encourage you to visit Granbury, and see Granbury Theatre Company’s production of Grease-after all these years, Grease is still the word!
Granbury Theatre Company
Granbury Opera House
133 E. Pearl Street
Granbury, Texas 76048
Plays through July 7.
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $25-$35 depending on seating (Prime: Rows A, B, C, D, Standard or Balcony: Rows CR, E, F, G, H, J, Balcony)
For groups of 10 or more, please call the box office for rates & reservations.