Review: Grease – rock ‘n’ roll angst amidst teenage dreams

Grease CollageBy Jesse O. Walls
Managing Editor

Black leather jackets, pedal pushers and teenage angst hits the stage in the Crowder College theatre’s production of the hit musical Grease. Based on the Broadway show and hit movie by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Crowder delivers a sexually-driven high school love story where every song is drenched with teenage passion and desire.

The opening song sequence, “Alma Mater”, may at first seem chaotic and busy, but quickly evens out and creates the scene and mood for the rest of the play. The following sequences were spectacular, save for a select few, and the choreography was well done. It was evident that a lot of work went into this production.

The singing, however, was lumped into various categories, from those who could make a song soar, to those who should have just been cut from the show. Lindsey Daniels, a junior from Carl Junction High School, embodied the character of Sandy—giving every song life. Her soaring vocals and passionate portrayal animated Sandy’s torn emotional state on the song “It’s Raining on Prom Night”.

Danny, on the other hand, seemed the complete opposite. Played by Marti Frazier, a medical technology major from Missouri Southern State University (MSSU), he had difficulty projecting and hitting the higher notes.  Honestly, he seemed whiny instead of cool and love-torn. It is probably best to consider this is Frazier’s first performance on stage, though the role of Danny really should have been played by someone with a little more stage experience and confidence.

Weakening the show was the portrayal of Kinickie, played by Brandon Hall, a theatre major here at Crowder. Hall’s over exaggerated actions and lines did nothing to add to the show, but rather detracted from it—comparing to a poorly done Three Stooges skit. When acting naturally, he was excellent and really could have shined had he toned down his performance a little.

The part of Rizzo, played by Andrea Eads, former Crowder alumni, was beyond brilliant. The notes where she lacked vocal quality, she more than made up for with her acting. Emphasizing scenes without going overboard, Eads quickly outshined her onstage counterpart. Her portrayal of Rizzo, alone, makes the show worth watching.

The teen angel, portrayed by Crowder’s debate instructor, Jason Edgar, was by far the worst performance of the evening. Not only was his vocal range atrocious, but his acting was lackluster, at best. He seemed very stiff and rigid, not at all what one sees for a guardian angel who sings rock and roll – especially in a libido-laden musical.

The costumes and make-up were outstanding, and the hair was very well done. Most of the cast had the style of the 50’s era, immediately capturing the viewer’s attention. The sound, at times, was a little off or inaudible. That said, this was a preview rehearsal; minor glitches like this should be fixed by opening night.

The dancing and music were spot on. The backing vocalists were strong, filling in the gaps and bringing the show together. And Steve Kenny was perfect for the role of radio personality Vince Fontaine. The live band, which also played music through the scene changes, added to the atmosphere, making Grease one of the greatest productions Crowder has put on.

Overall, this show would rate as a B, and had a few actors been replaced and the cast one more week to practice, this show definitely could have been an A+.

Grease will be held at 7:30 p.m. on April 18-20, with an additional matinee showing at 2 p.m. on Saturday, in the Elsie Plaster Community Center on the Neosho campus. Admissions are $6 for Crowder students, $7 for other students and seniors and $8 for general admissions.

For more information and to reserve tickets, call 455-5470.

Grease cast:

Danny . . . Marti Frazier

Sandy . . . Lindsey Daniels

Kinickie . . . Brandon Hall

Sonny . . . Jose Avendano

Doody . . . Hunter Kinser

Roger . . . Kyle Jacobs

Marty . . . Sarah Naylor

Rizzo . . . Andrea Eads

Jan . . . Karrin Daugherty

Frenchy . . . Shira Murphy

Vince Fontaine . . . Steve Kenny

Teen Angel . . . Jason Edgar

Johnny Casino . . . Brian Savard

Cha Cha . . . Becki Gooch

Patti Simcox . . . Madison Baker

Miss Lynch . . . Dr. Bible

Eugene . . . Tanner Hutsell

Chorus . . . Sara Leggett, Rachel Stillions, Amber Brumley and Chelsey Johnson


Updated on April 19, 2013.