Grease Review – Rocking and Rolling in the ’50s

The Pink Ladies in GREASE - Photo by Jason Niedle
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There are probably very few people who do not recognize the name of this famed rock-‘n-roll musical, a popular favorite which graced both stage and screen. GREASE was first performed in 1971 in Chicago – an apt opening city, given the role that Chicago played in its development. Set in Chicago’s Taft High school – renamed Rydell High School in homage to rock singer Bobby Rydell – and inspired by events in author Bronte Woodard’s life and times, GREASE is a gritty musical delving into teen angst, rebellion, sexual exploration, peer pressure, and even gang violence. By 1972, GREASE was moved to Broadway (book, music, and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey), where it ran for 3,388 performances and garnered seven Tony Award nominations, two Drama Desk Awards, and one Theatre World Award.. Actors in various stage productions over the years included Adrienne Barbeau, Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze, Treat Williams, and John Travolta – with Travolta and British-Australian Olivia Newton-John starring in the film adaptation released in 1978. GREASE has also been adapted for television – and has played across the globe. In 2023, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts proudly presents GREASE for 2023 audiences.

Jenna Lea Rosen and Ryan Reyes – Photo by Jason Niedle

The time is the 1950s, and the place is Chicago. Danny Zuko (Ryan Reyes) is a tough womanizing greaser – and de facto head of the Burger Palace Boys gang. He has the respect of everyone he meets and the world in his hand – until he meets Sandy Dumbrowski (Jenna Lea Rosen), a straight-laced innocent giddy with culture shock when she moves from her former home to Chicago and is introduced to Rydell High. Soon she’s a fringe member of the Pink Ladies, a girl-gang headed up by Betty Rizzo (Domonique Paton), a tough, cynical Italian teen who keeps her feelings to herself and her comments out there for everyone to hear. Sandy feels closest to Frenchy (Bella Hicks), a Pink Lady whose super power is how to “French inhale” a cigarette – with dreams of becoming a beautician. And let’s not forget about Miss Lynch (Suzanna Guzman), a spinster English teacher who has made disciplining the unruly bunch of high schoolers her mission, or Vince Fontaine (Todd Adamson), a 19-year-old graduate of Rydell High who hosts a local radio station – and narrates some of the past and current goings-on at Rydell.

The Burger Palace Boys – Photo by Jason Niedle

GREASE is packed with songs, including “Grease,” “Shakin’ at the High School Hop,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “Summer Nights,” With musical direction by Ryan O’Connell and a talented group of cast vocalists, the songs pop at just the right moment, with bouncy dance numbers skillfully choreographed by Christopher M. Albrecht. Directed by Kari Hayter, GREASE doesn’t miss a beat as it tracks ten working-class teens as they fight (and love) to survive to adulthood. Kudos to the cast and crew, who make sure that the show is electrifying and energetic at every turn. I would have loved to bottle the cast’s spirit and energy for future use. This high octane musical is a fun, entertaining show which will have the audience swinging and swaying in their seats. For some, GREASE may even bring back fond memories from the rocking and rolling 50s.

Meet the Grease Cast Poster – Courtesy of La Mirada Theatre

GREASE runs through February 12, 2023, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, at 8 p.m. on Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays (no performance on Sunday 1/22/12 at 6:30 p.m.) La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada, CA. Tickets range from $19 to $90 (students $14). For information and reservations, call 562-944-9801 or 714-994-6310 or go online.


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