Marriott ‘Grease’ Revs Up for a Good Time Rock n’ Roll Comedic Adventure
Grease is one of those fun musicals that has touched almost everyone at some point in their life – whether that be via the 1978 film, the 2016 television special, the multiple Broadway revivals, or one of the hundreds of regional stage productions mounted each year.
Marriott Theatre, located in Lincolnshire, now brings its production of Grease to life with a talented troupe of young performers. Marriott’s production draws on the influences of the original Broadway production and the 1978 film. The result is a winning evening of entertainment.
The story takes place in 1959 as the school year starts for the greasers that make up the T-Birds gang and their girls: the Pink Ladies. Danny Zuko, the leader for the T-Birds and the coolest guy on campus, spent the summer at the beach romancing a sweet young girl named Sandy. When summer ended, the love birds thought they’d never see each other again. But due to a change in plans by Sandy’s father, the two end up together at Rydell High School.
As Danny Zuko, Broadway’s Jimmy Nicholas has all the talent and handsome looks needed to believably play the teen heartthrob. As Sandy, Leryn Turlington is a cute as a button, petite ingenue with a big voice. Together they create magic.
The supporting cast is equally as magical. Kevin Corbett is effective as Danny’s lieutenant Kenickie and Jacquelyne Jones as Betty Rizzo is a sultry beauty with sharply arched eyebrows. Her rendition of the heartbreaking song ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ is one of the most powerful moments in the show.
Frenchy, who drops out of high school to attend beauty school only to flunk out in record time, is brilliantly played by Landree Fleming. Thanks to her incredible Lucille Ball-like expressions, every time she’s on stage it’s a joy.
Fellow Pink Ladies Marty and Jan are played respectively by Michelle Lauto and Tiffany T. Taylor. Both are skilled performers and fun to watch.
Rounding out the T-Birds are Jack Cahill-Lemme as Sonny, Jake Elkins as Roger, and Michael Kurowski as babyfaced Doody. They too are a hoot.
The ensemble also includes Kelly Anne Clark (Miss Lynch), Alaina Wis (Patty Simcox), Garrett Lutz (Eugene), Curt Bouril (Vince Fontaine), Billy Rude (Johnny Casino), Jessica Palkovic (Cha-Cha DiGregorio), Jonathan Butler-Duplessis (Teen Angel), Allison Sill, Kyra Sorce, and Marco Tzunux.
Marriott’s Grease hinges on high octane singing and superior comedic timing. From start to end, the production is one laugh after another thanks to the direction of Scott Weinstein. Throw in some fancy choreography by William Carlos Angulo and top-notch music direction by Ryan T. Nelson, and it guarantees a good time.
As has become customary for many theaters, the Marriott production of Grease substitutes some of the songs from the movie for certain ones from the Broadway libretto. ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ takes the place of “It’s Raining on Prom Night’ and ‘You’re the One that I Want’ replaces ‘All Choked Up.’ While the movie songs are lively and recognizable, the original Broadway songs have their own magic that is somewhat missed by their exclusion.
Costumes by Amanda Vander Byl fit the era with perfection and compliment each performer’s character. Set design by Jeffrey D. Kmiec adds subtle dimension to the overall production.
The cast of Marriott’s Grease is clearly having a great time on stage and graciously invites the audience in on the fun.