Book, Music & Lyrics by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Garland Summer Musicals
Directed by – J. Alan Hanna
Music Director/Conductor – Larry Miller
Choreographer – Kelly McCain
Set Design – Kelly Cox
Costume Design – Michael A. Robinson, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Light Designer – Jason S. Foster
Props Design/Set Dressing – Robin Coulonge
Sound Design – Tyler Payne, Tech Labs
Stage Manager – Maddie Collins
Courtney Blanc – Sandy Dumbrowski
Robert Mata – Danny Zuko
Brad Weatherford – Sonny Latierri
Nick Chabot – Roger
Gideon Etheridge – Doody
Cameron Vance – Kenickie
Paige Walker – Jan
Alena Cardenez – Betty Rizzo
Mary Margaret Gates – Marty
Allie Donnelly – Frenchie
Ryan Douglass – Eugene Florcyzk
Steve Goin – Coach
Caren Sharpe-Herbst – Miss Lynch
Linda Frank – Secretary
Gena Loe – Patty Symcox
Steve Golin – Vince Fontaine
Nolan James – Johnny Casino
Sarah Mathers – Cha-Cha Digregorio
Emma Smith – Emily Stiliski
Emma Smith, Savannah Worthington, Ryan Douglass, Brandon Baker – Bell Tone Quartet
Brandon Baker – Teen Angel
Drive In Movie Scene:
Annie Olive Cahill – Sheila’s Voice
Adam Henley – Lance’s Voice
Kevin Davis, Jr. – Scientist’s Voice
Ensemble – Allyson Guba, Annie Olive Cahill, Emma Smith, Savannah Worthington, Kevin Davis, Jr., Ryan Ramiriz,
Reviewed Performance: 6/11/2021
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Most people who are familiar with GREASE know the movie or perhaps even the more recent Grease Live, which is essentially a combination of the film and the original stage version. The stage version as presented by Garland Summer Musicals is much more of an ensemble piece instead of being a star vehicle, which really allows everyone their moments to shine.
Taking the biggest advantage of their roles were the “lesser” T-Birds Gideon Ethridge as Doody, Nick Chabot as Roger, and Brad Weatherford as Sonny Latierri. Ethridge’s rendition of “Those Magic Changes” was one of the best I’ve seen of this song, and Cabot (paired perfectly with Paige Walker as awkward Pink Lady Jan) singing “Mooning” was not only vocally exceptional but also pretty darn funny. Then you have the amazing (and often hilarious) dance moves of Weatherford. The T-Birds are rarely the highlight of Grease, but these guys definitely were.
Previously mentioned Paige Walker was a joy to watch as Jan. She had tons of energy and incredible facial expressions, and she obviously had a blast in the role. The other Pink Ladies were not as successful, primarily because I had trouble understanding them (especially Mary Margaret Gates as Marty). They not only spoke way too fast, it seemed as though the mics were kind of muffled.
Courtney Blanc’s Sandy Dumbrowski was beautifully sung, but like most of the Pink Ladies, I had trouble understanding her much of the time. I don’t think she was talking too fast; she was just too quiet. Again, that issue could have been partially attributed to the mics. However, her rendition of “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was just lovely, and I loved that she made it her own. Blanc and Robert Mata also did a great job with “You’re the One That I Want.” Overall, the two lacked chemistry, however. Mata played Danny Zuko with just the right amount of cool confidence when hanging with the T-Birds, though, and his “Alone at the Drive-In Movie” was definitely a highlight.
Cameron Vance’s Kenickie and Alena Cardenz’s Betty Rizzo had some great moments together, whether arguing or loving. While I enjoyed their chemistry, however, they both seemed a little too angry throughout.
Gena Loe is another cast member who made the most of her role as perky cheerleader Patty Symcox. She was perfectly annoying (as the character requires) and was a fabulous dancer. Her facial expressions alone were worth the price of admission. Ryan Douglass was equally annoying as Eugene Florcyzk and just as effective. Caren-Sharpe-Herbst was also excellent as the authoritative Miss Lynch, and Steve Goin was fabulously irritating as Vince Fontaine. Nolan James as Johnny Casino perfectly captured the “singer at a high school dance (who’s really better than that).”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolute showstopper of the evening: Brandon Baker’s incredible Teen Angel singing “Beauty School Dropout” was easily the best performance of the night, aided by a comical quartet of men, a bevy of lovely ladies, and Allie Donnelly’s hilarious reactions as a pink-haired Frenchie. I have honestly never seen this song performed better.
The remaining cast members and ensemble rounded out the show very well, and the stage always seemed full but not crowded. This was due primarily to Kelly McCain’s fun, energetic choreography coupled with J. Alan Hanna’s expert direction. Fitting that many people onstage comfortably is definitely a talent! Kelly Cox’s set design, including two winding staircases, worked well for the show and was well-lit by lighting designer Jason S. Foster. I especially liked the jukebox lighting. The props and set dressing provided by Robin Coulonge also added to the proceedings.
Costumes by Michael A. Robinson and the Dallas Costume Shoppe were period perfect. The leather jacket/rolled up jean looks combined with the men’s suits complemented the women beautifully, whether in slim pencil skirts, cheerleading outfits, pedal pushers, or dancing dresses. (So many petticoats!)
It wouldn’t be a musical without the songs, and Larry Miller should be commended for not only his musical direction with the voices, but also as conductor of the orchestra. It’s always a treat to have live music at a show, especially when it’s this well done. And this wasn’t just a little combo: it was a full orchestra! Major kudos to all the musicians!
Garland Summer Musicals always puts on a great show, and I highly recommend this one, especially if you’ve never seen GREASE onstage. The ensemble nature of the stage musical is in sharp contrast to the star power of the popular film, and everyone really does shine.
Runs through June 20:
Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm
Tickets are $28-34.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.garlandartsboxoffice.com/tickets
or call the box office at (972) 205-2790.