The longtime-hit Grease, which takes an up close and personal look at the lives of working class teenagers in 1950s Chicago, has been much-loved since its 1971 premiere and even more so since its popular 1978 movie incarnation starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. It even gained a whole new legion of “hopefully devoted” followers just last month with FOX’s production of Grease: Live. And the latest addition to the lineup, at least locally, is NC Theatre’s production, directed by Hunter Foster, which is also delighting a whole new group of long-time and brand-new fans.
This high-energy performance is spirited from the start with a peppy opening number. The cast, which bears a striking resemblance to the film cast, is a close-enough movie match that viewers familiar with the story can easily tell who’s who… with the exception of a surprisingly brunette Sandy, the female lead. And for those who aren’t super familiar with the story, it all focuses on what happens when sweet Sandy (Emily Behny) relocates to Rydell High and rejoins her summertime sweetheart, Danny Zuko (John Arthur Greene).They encounter problems as they try to mesh her picture-perfect world with his greaser world, and the show also focuses on the life and times of their memorable friends as well.
Behny makes for a sweet but somewhat dull and forgettable Sandy. She does the bare minimum that the usually-charming part calls for, but her lackluster performance is more than made up for by the colorful contributions of the rest of the cast. Greene is a charming and adorable Zuko, one that viewers root for, but the real standout here is definitely Lauren Nicole Cipoletti’s Rizzo, a bad-girl character who stands her ground and who is known for having been around the block a time or two.
Cipolettti lends a spunk and a fire to Rizzo that makes her insanely watchable and oh so much fun; it also doesn’t hurt that she bears a striking resemblance to a young Stockard Channing, who played the role in the popular 70s film.
Another nice performance comes from Lily Tobin, who makes for an adorable Frenchy, the high school’s “beauty school dropout.” Tobin plays the character as sweet-but-clueless and really nails the hilarious “Beauty School Dropout” number, along with Malcolm Armwood, who does a thoroughly hilarious job in his small but memorable role as the singing “Teen Angel.”
Aside from the cast, the set changes are quick, the costumes are to die for, and the choreography is oh-so-much fun. While the show doesn’t add anything new to Grease for those who have seen it before, it’s certainly a solid addition and a fun view for longtime fans and newcomers alike.
The North Carolina Theatre presents GREASE at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/844058.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949; firstname.lastname@example.org; or http://nctheatre.com/groups.
SHOW: http://nctheatre.com/shows/grease and https://www.facebook.com/events/797169023702181/.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT’s 2015-16 SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201516-season.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
VENUE: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/venue/memorial-auditorium and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Energy_Center_for_the_Performing_Arts#Raleigh_Memorial_Auditorium.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13th, performance.
Grease (1972 Broadway and 1973 West End musical): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/2155/grease (Samuel French, Inc.), http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/4056 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.greasethemusical.co.uk/pdf/Education_Pack.pdf (U.K. tour).
Jim Jacobs (music, lyrics, and book): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6743 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0414448/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jacobs (Wikipedia).
Warren Casey (music, lyrics, and book): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/9047 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0143558/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Casey (Wikipedia).
Grease (1978 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/4603/Grease/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077631/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Hunter Foster (Lumberton, NC-born director): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/69544 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1654795//a> (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/Hunter-Foster-10258854548/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/hunter_foster (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Foster (Wikipedia).
Jennifer Cody (choreographer): http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/76147 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2278607/ (Internet Movie Database), https://twitter.com/jen__cody (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Cody (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.