Review "The Original Grease": HILARIOUS, Raunchy Romp!

Audio Podcast at ITUNES 
Narrated by Joshua Volkers

American Theater Company presents

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THE ORIGINAL GREASE
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Musical direction by Roberta Duchak
Directed by PJ Paparelli
Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru June 26th
Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Two hours and forty-five minutes includes an intermission

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Boy meets girl. Boy wants girl.  Girl gives it up to boy.  End of the movie!  Actually, that's the primary focus of the movie "Grease."  The 1978 film was a record-breaking hit musical.  I loved it then as a cult classic sing- long.  I tolerate it now as a karaoke staple.  After seeing the original stage version, I like it less as a glossy remake. American Theater Company presents THE ORIGINAL GREASE, a musical coming of age in 1959.  Summer is over!  School is in session.  The gangs are back together.  The Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys sing about Sandy and Danny's summer tryst in the song, 'Foster Beach.' The couple's missed connection isn't at the heart of the show.  It's one of multiple storylines of teenagers searching for identity, purpose and love.  All the while, their hormones thrust them into unrelenting horniness.  Pussy!  The guys are chasing it and the girls want them to 'Kiss It.'  The foreplay is sing-to-me-dirty as she 'sits on my face' and he 'get my rocks off.'  THE ORIGINAL GREASE is a hilarious, raunchy romp of dicks and chicks! 

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Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey wrote a poignant and playful musical about kids growing up on Chicago's Northwest side. Individually, the teenagers struggle with wanting to be distinct.  Collectively, they strive to fit into the group.  Timeless pubescent angst rolls into lyrical high school hi-jinx.  Despite the lusty lyrics and dialogue, Jacobs and Casey's script is more focused on friendship.  With that intention, Director PJ Pararelli dives into building a fantastical fraternity-sorority mixer.  The ensemble is onstage camaraderie communal.  The talented cast goes together like 'rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong.'  In fact, a marvelous acoustic version of 'We Go Together' ends Act I.  It's one of the few Jacobs & Casey's songs to make it to Hollywood. The onstage jocularity rivals anything I've seen.  I continually laughed at the ongoing shenanigans.  Some comedic standouts were an awkward Tyler Ravelson (Miller), a quirky Jessie Fisher (Frenchy) and an aggressive Hannah Gomez (Cha-Cha).  But the biggest showstopper is Alaina Mills (Patty Simcox) singing 'Yeeughh!' Mills' number is sung magnificently over the roars of laughter.       

Pararelli has assembled a dream team to support his amazing ensemble! Jim Corti choreographs fun-loving, old school dance sequences. Under the music direction of Roberta Duchak and orchestration/vocal arrangement of Malcolm Ruhl, the band and singing rock.  In particular, the Burger Palace Boys (Ravelson, Adrian Aguilar, Tony Clarno, Bubba Weiler, Rob Coletti, Patrick De Nicola) croon with wondrous harmony. The sound contrast to their crude greaser attitudes is brilliant. How many auditions does it take to get a sublime cast?  According to American Theatre Company, 850!

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Just like my own high school experience, there were flaws but I still loved it.  The alumni (except for an effervescent Susan Fay) are a clunky addition.  The lighting design is awkward.  The dated audio equipment muffles.  But unlike my own high school experience, I want to go back to this show!  America Theatre Company's THE ORIGINAL GREASE is 'one of a kind, like dip di-dip di-dip doo-bop a doo-bee doo.' 

A man who has done Doody on stage, Shawn describes it with 'What. A. Surprise.'

 

Production photography courtesy of Brett Beiner.

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