‘Grease’: Revisiting the ’50s

Matt Nolan as 'Danny' and Alyssa Herrera as 'Sandy' (center),


Grease

, one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, turns up every few
years. It usually features folks from another era who have starred
in sitcoms
– or have appeared in the media more than three times – who may
draw the public to lay down their bucks and enjoy a few hours of
bombastic, non-cerebral nostalgia of the ’50s.
“Grease”, one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, turns up every few years. It usually features folks from another era who have starred in sitcoms – or have appeared in the media more than three times – who may draw the public to lay down their bucks and enjoy a few hours of bombastic, non-cerebral nostalgia of the ’50s.

This time, veteran TV/movie/Broadway actor Eddie Mekka – best remembered as Carmine Ragusa in “Lavern and Shirley” – reprises the pivotal role of “DJ” Vince Fontaine.

“Grease” takes us back to the time of sock hops, poodle skirts and leather jackets. The music has a non-stop bounce, without the heavy beat that seems to be in everything we hear today. It is loud without being too offensive.

Davis John O’Brien capably directs this fast moving juggernaut; but the real show stealer is the choreography. It is inventive, fun and has Tommy Tune written all over it. (Tune produced the original version.) Choreographer Joyce Chittick lets you see and feel the delightful Tune style. The production offers scenic design by Derek McLane, costumes by Martin Pakledinaz and lighting by Kenneth Posner (all are Tony Award winners).

Newcomers Matt Nolan (Danny) and Alyssa Herrera (Sandy) carry the show with their exuberant energy and strong vocal qualities. A hard working cast adds a liveliness that keeps things moving at a fast pace.

“Grease” originated in Chicago in 1971 before moving to off-Broadway in 1972 with 128 sold out performances. It hit Broadway in June 1972 and was nominated for seven Tony Awards. It closed as the longest running show on Broadway (at the time) with a whopping 3,388 performances.

In 1978, “Grease” became a popular feature film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. A Broadway revival opened on May 11, 1994 and received three Tony nominations. It then went on to another revival on Broadway on Aug. 19, 2007 and received another Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. (I think they ought to give it an award for the most revived revival.)

Let’s face it folks: A silver stake or bullet in the heart will never stop “Grease”. It will always “revive” someway, somehow in some high school auditorium or national road company. If only we could get the secret formula and pass it on to our pharmaceutical labs; they could create an expensive pill and we could be revived if we could afford it.

The nonstop action and audience participation usually gets adults and children alike wired and up-beat, and everyone should have a stomping, good, nostalgic time. “Grease” simply is silly fun for a new generation and the baby boomers who want to remember where they left their duck-tail haircuts and saddle shoes.

***

‘Grease!’

Where: San Jose Center For the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose

When: Jan. 18 through 23

Details: (408) 792-4111 or visit www.sjtix.com

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