When it comes to musicals, there are two major requirements — music and vocalists. Landmark Community Theatre’s production of “Grease” in Thomaston, currently has an amazingly talented cast of singers and good musicians. Every member of this cast that sang during the show would rate five stars. The women not only sang beautifully but emoted just the right attitude of the song’s intent as well as the momentum of the scene. The men not only sang well, but most of them hit a falsetto range with such ease that the audience applauded as soon as they reached that pitch perfect peak. Some of these perfectly executed notes came when least expected and delighted the audience. The band brought excitement and plenty of enthusiasm to the show.
Directed by James Donohue with music direction by AJ Bunel, “Grease” delivers what the title song declares: “It’s got groove; it’s got meaning.” Capturing the essence of coming of age, specifically in the late 1950’s and into the 1960s, this musical addresses social issues such as peer pressure and sexual exploration including teen pregnancy.
The two lead characters Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski both deal with fitting in. Danny has to maintain his tough guy persona with the boys, even though he is tender and caring when with Sandy, his girlfriend. Therefore when Sandy arrives on the scene while Danny is with buddies, Danny resorts to his tough guy behavior.
Sandy also wants to fit in. She wants to be a Pink Lady, a rather fast group at the high school, but she also wants to remain prim and proper as her background suggests. She even becomes a cheerleader trying to fit in with the peers best suited to her.
Another couple of lovers also have problems, Kenickie and Betty Rizzo. They are firmly in the fast cliques they want to be in. Rizzo even thinks that she might be pregnant. During the ’50s and most of the ’60s, unwed moms were looked down upon.
Despite the many issues the teen characters in this musical are presented with, they recognize that their time at Rydell High School may be the best time of their lives. They face the future with hopes and dreams, but also with apprehension. They know their lives are about to change.
Rob Giarardin has all the moves and grooves in the lead male role even though his hair does not reflect the “greaser” generation. His vocals are strong and he pairs well with Brittany Mulcahy who plays Sandy. She has an angelic voice. That she can also belt out a tune and still sound sweet is an uncommon feat. All sing well, but when Brian Fortin Carter arrives on the scene as Teen Angel decked out in a shimmering out of this world outfit, he proves that only the best voices are featured in this production.
While the cast is terrific, there is a problem that kept interfering with the flow of the show. There are far too many black outs and closed curtains. Also, the ending of the show is missing the impact of Sandy’s apparent change. Choreographer Nina Paganucci does a fine job as does the lighting designer Dan Checovetes. Costume designer is Debbie Cashman and sound design is by Ian Jones. Overall, “Grease” is still the word with upbeat music and fine dancing.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]