Sunday, July 22, 2018
Stage

It's back to 1959 with Show Palace production of 'Grease'

HUDSON — Time for girls to drag out their pedal pushers and guys to don their white T-shirts (with a pack of ciggies rolled in the sleeve) and go back to 1959 at Chicago's Rydell High School, home to the Burger Palace Boys and their Pink Ladies, and all the singing, dancing, romance, illicit sex and other things that create Grease, the 1972 record-breaking, Tony-nominated Broadway musical.

It's playing April 16 through May 22 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre. And even a week before opening night, most shows were almost sold out — even though five shows were added to the regular schedule.

Grease started out as a raunchy musical in a Chicago trolley barn, but it has morphed over the years to something more family friendly. (There's even a totally sanitized version suitable for high school productions.) The Show Palace version is middle-of-the-road, with all the beloved songs from both the stage show and the John Travolta movie, as well as the issues of teen sexual exploration and pregnancy, gang violence, and social and economic class conflict.

It held the title of longest-running show on Broadway for years and launched the careers of performers who became household names — Richard Gere and Rosie O'Donnell, for instance.

For the upcoming production, director/choreographer Jill Godfrey is bringing back several Show Palace favorites, plus some newcomers.

Molly Anne Rose (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz) plays Sandy Dumbrowski, the beautiful, virtuous new girl in school who falls for Burger Palace Boys big shot Danny Zuko (Hunter Brown, Show Palace debut). They have had a summer romance that Sandy describes as chaste, while Danny implies to his buddies was wild and crazy (Summer Nights). It has apparently ended, until Sandy and Danny run into each other the first day of the new school year, and the spark is still there.

Sandy is eager to resume the relationship. But Danny, having bragged about things that never happened, is reluctant to do so for fear the truth will come out and he'll look foolish.

Sandy is heartbroken, but consoled by the Pink Ladies. They go to a pajama party at Marty's (Christie Rohr, Val in A Chorus Line), who sings of Freddy, My Love, her long-distance boyfriend. The guys steal hubcaps and admire the new hot rod that boisterous Kenickie (Stephen Antonelli, Caveman Ancestor in The Addams Family) has recently acquired (Greased Lightnin').

Danny joins the track team, while Sandy becomes a cheerleader. But "bad girl" Betty Rizzo (Katherine Walker Hill) teases Danny about falling for a "good girl" (Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee), and Danny ends up not asking Sandy to prom.

Trouble really starts when Kenickie shows up with the sexy ChaCha DeGregorio (Alyssa Elrod, assistant choreographer), then dumps her for Rizzo, and Danny ends up with ChaCha. Danny and ChaCha hit it off and win the dance contest (Born to Hand Jive), but then it comes out that ChaCha is the girlfriend of one of the fellows in the rival gang, the Flaming Dukes. That leads to a challenge to a rumble, as other complications follow.

But not before some big production numbers with lots of singing and dancing to You're the One That I Want, We Go Together, and the tender ballad There Are Worse Things I Could Do, as well as the drippy It's Raining on Prom Night and Beauty School Dropout.

The 16-member cast also includes Timothe Bittle as Teen Angel; Mary Anne Edwards as the spinster English teacher Miss Lynch; Jared E. Walker as prom emcee Vince Fontaine; Caleb Brening as class nerd Eugene Florczyk; Jay R. Goldberg as Roger, Danny's buddy; Jordan Wolfe as Doody, an aspiring rock star; Ben Hill as Sonny; and Collen Cherry as Jan, Alexus Nagy as Frenchy and Lindsay Nantz as Patty, the other Pink Ladies.

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