Is there anyone who doesn’t know Grease, both from the original long running Broadway show (1972) and the hugely successful 1978 film version? Well, it’s back and packing them in at the Fox through Sunday (August 16). And this version has the extra added attraction of 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks playing the Teen Angel, who makes a brief appearance in Act II. He also performs his new single “Seven Mile Breakdown” when the show is over. As a theatre purist (more or less) I don’t entirely approve, but such is the power of the Idol juggernaut, which threatens to engulf all of entertainment (God forbid). Oh yes, this production combines music from the film with songs from the original show; it works nicely.
The cast here is attractive and talented; leads Eric Schneider (Danny Zuko) and Emily Padgett (Sandy Dumbrowski—didn’t know that was her last name) may not make you forget John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, but they more than hold their own. All your “Grease” friends are here: Kenickie, Rizzo, Frenchy, Miss Lynch, and a special shout-out to Bridie Carroll (Jan), who spent much of her youth in the Atlanta area, though she now lives in Manhattan.
In the impossible vastness of our grand Fox, I think lighting designer Kenneth Posner could turn up the wattage a bit; for some reason the lights come up more strongly at the end of songs; but in a theatre that big they should stay up—if the audience is to clearly discern faces. The perennial bugaboo of the Fox—sound—works just fine here—hooray! Both power and clarity are excellent.
Kathleen Marchall directs and choreographs. To me, the secret of Grease’s success is the sweet poignance and vulnerability and innocence of high school kids, who, interestingly, adore the Grease film (and show). So how have your “Summer Nights” been? Are you a “Beauty School Dropout”? We all are at some point; so go—maybe you’ll find “The One That I (you) Want.” www.foxtheatre.org