If you’ve seen Grease in any other context and feel nostalgic, you won’t be disappointed with the production by The Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College with final performances
Thursday through Saturday at the Garvin Theater.
If you’ve never seen it, but want to check musical theater “classics” off your list, this production provides the clever staging and eccentric caricatures of 1950s pop culture that you’d find in
The live nine-piece band sounds great and deserves to be seen at some point. Many of the vocals, particularly among the supporting cast, are really strong.
The costuming is colorful and fabulous.
The sets capture mid-century modernity and employ fun Broadway-esque moving set design. How they get that car to move in and out of scenes is a wonder.
Christina McCarthy’s choreography, as always, makes non-dancers and trained dancers alike move in ways that build the characters, advance the plot and capture the essentials of the moment
Plus, it’s just plain fun to watch.
Ensemble numbers are highlights including the grease monkey chorus in “Greased Lightnin’” and the backup singers with silver beehive curler hairdos in “Teen Angel.”
Dealt possibly the least interesting roles in the play, leads Tessa Miller as Sandy and Ben Zevallos as Danny brought forth enough powerful notes, character-driven physicality, and moments of comic timing to make something out of what they were given in the script.
The juiciest work came from the supporting cast and their more nuanced characters and sub-plots.
Aurora Cassandra Gooch as Rizzo, a favorite character as the only one who seems motivated by a moral code of her own, and Alizah Anais Amaryllis Walton as Marty each turn in solo
performances that silenced the audience with vocal power.
Kudos to Leslie Ann Story as all of our good-hearted straight-laced high school English teachers and Chris Carmona as her falsely indifferent teacher’s pet Sonny.
Penny O’Mahoney and Will Geare as the chipper cheerleader and the valedictorian nerd held fast to their personas in affect, movement and voice, and both evolved into more than meets the eye.
Kody Siemensma gives a sharp turn as Kenickie and Hazel Brady is crystal clear as Frenchy.
Unlikely and endearing love interests Christian Duarte as the mooning-king Roger and Josie Gillingham as food-loving Jan make seeming comic foils into characters you end up really
Grease is lauded as a celebration of the joys of early rock ’n‘ roll and the (ever-so-slightly deconstructed) “innocence” of the ’50s.
However, the fact that the dude ends up getting the girl by reverting to who he really is after dabbling in trying to impress her, and the girl gets the guy by becoming the antithesis of who she
really is…. is just annoying.
If you remember most what happened last, that’s too bad, because it may mar your perception of what is otherwise a musically and theatrically pleasurable experience.
Maybe plan to have a little talk with your kids about double standards over ice cream after the show.
Tickets are close to sold out for remaining shows. Act fast if you want to catch it this time around.
Click here to buy tickets and get more information about the remaining performances.
— Noozhawk contributor and local arts critic Judith Smith-Meyer is a round-the-clock appreciator of the creative act. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are her own.