"Grease" is at the IU Auditorium in a spirited production that is at its best when the energy is up and everyone is moving. Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey created "Grease" as a parody out of their high school memories of the fifties as they looked back on it from the seventies. It’s been forty years since those gritty early Chicago and Off-Broadway productions that seemed to firmly place the show somewhere in South Jersey. In the show at the Auditorium things have become a little more homogenized, a little more generic, and the guitar licks are up to date. But the songs, the plot and stock characters are given their due, and when the actors get moving that things heat up.
Danny played by Jamey Isenor and Sandy played by Hanna-Liina Vosa have had a tender and pretty innocent summer romance. They end up at inner-city Rydell High School together. Danny is back with his buddies and plays the cool tough guy crushing the sweetness. By the way both leads are a long way from their own high school experiences. Jamey Isenor is from a small town in Minnesota and Hanna-Liina Vosa is from Estonia.
Arthur J. M. Callahan played the part of the irrepressible DJ, Vince Fontaine. Callahan handles many of the "Grease’s" transitions. Before the show began, he warmed up the audience with some singing along, a few hand gestures and even a good-natured dance contest. The winner, chosen by the audience’s applause, was a three-year old young lady, partnered by her father. All the cast members did a good job keeping their characters separate and interesting. I especially enjoyed Jacqueline Colmer as the commanding yet vulnerable Betty Rizzo.
As the plot of "Grease" goes on we are treated to a number of songs, that by now are as familiar as the genuine hits from the 50s. The singing was good and the energy level was high for "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightning," "Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee," and "Beauty School Dropout." At the climax of "Grease," Danny gets his head on a little straighter. Sandy loosens up and everything ends happily with "We Go Together."
"Grease" at the IU Auditorium has its final performance tonight at eight.
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