Danielle Stout, Kelly Berger, Taylor Stephens, Abby Moskalik, Jaclyn Weeman, Chelsea Groen

The summer nights are long over in Phoenix. Of course, it’s always summer in Phoenix, which makes every night a good night for some Greased Lightnin’, Hand Jivin’, and perhaps even a little bit of Moonin’. And they’re doing that and more when the Pink Ladies from Xavier High and the Burger Palace Boys from Brophy High go together for this big, one-weekend-only production that packed the house, and the sell-out audiences got a treat with this lively, well-sung, and highly amusing stage version of Grease.

The stage version is a more episodic story than the film, spreading out the spotlight among the supporting cast of characters as it satirizes the nostalgia surrounding 1950s teenage life. But Danny and Sandy are still the boy and girl around whom the show revolves. Danny Zuko is the cool bad boy who has fallen for the nice new girl at school, Sandy Dumbrowski. But he doesn’t want to lose his cool standing with his cool guy friends by admitting it. Luis Malanche is Danny, and gives one of the more impressive performances of him that you’re going to see. Great personality and sense of humor, and surprising vocal range. And, well, he just looks like Danny Zuko. Kelly Berger stars as Sandy, who transitions well from the good girl “Sandra Dee” (singing ballads like It’s Raining on Prom Night) to the full-fledged Pink Lady in her big All Choked Up rock duet with Danny.

Their friends are led by the character who acts as the counterbalance to sugary Sandy, the very un-goody-two-shoes Rizzo, with Chelsea Groen turning in an exceptional performance that includes her amusingly unenthusiastic dancing to the happy-go-lucky Summer Nights number, and highlighted by her compelling and emotional rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do. Danielle Stout makes for a very quirky Frenchy, with her creative quirkiness always working to great effect. You never know what to expect. As Marty, Jaclyn Weeman leads all the Pink Ladies in Freddy My Love. And in her first stage performance, Abby Moskalik is a thoroughly lovable Jan who injects her scenes with a jolt of infectious goofiness and energy. Even when she’s Mooning.

Enter Roger, the King of the Mooners, with Henry Jenson lighting up the night as he imagines himself mooning in various locales, including Jan’s front door. As Doody, RJ Silva has a very likeable charisma as he leads the cast while learning to play the guitar in a terrific staging of Those Magic Changes. Sergio Miller fancies himself a lady killer as Sonny/Dominick, and Jean-Luc Cavnar-Lewandowski leads all the guys in a vibrant Greased Lightnin’ – a tribute to the ultra-cool pink car in which he gets to cruise around the stage.

A few of the other standouts include Gabriela Rodiles as Cha-Cha who scares nerdy Eugene (Ian White) and Taylor Stephens as Sandy’s very aggressive rival for Danny in the form of perky cheerleader Patty Simcox, at one point dismissing Sandy from the picture by giving her cheerleading protégé a baton and saying, “Here, twirl this around.” Kate Habros has a strong feel for Miss Lynch’s uptight personality and humor. Elsewhere, Matt Rubbelke is smooth DJ Vince Fontaine, Regan May is the Raining on Prom Night radio vocalist, and Andrew Forsyth duals as rock singer Johnny Casino and as the “malt shop in the sky” rock angel in Beauty School Dropout (in this incarnation, he proves successful in convincing Frenchy to go back to high school). And the ensemble is terrific – a dynamic group that sing, dance, and amuse through such hits as Summer Nights, Those Magic Changes, and a magnificent Hand Jive scene choreographed by Christina Ulrich.

They’re all backed up by a dynamite “WAXX Radio” band set up in back (musical direction by Jerry Harkey), performing under the professional-looking signs for the radio station, malt shop, and Rydell High (set design by Nathan Ward). Mary Romine put together some great 50s costumes, especially for the Hand Jive scene. Director Teresa Corderman had to jump in and direct her first musical when the regular director was stricken by a medical emergency, and she clearly did a great job of making it all go together.

Performs October 15 - 18, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Danny: Luis Malanche
Sandy: Kelly Berger
Rizzo: Chelsea Groen
Frenchy: Danielle Stout
Marty: Jaclyn Weeman
Jan: Abby Moskalik
Kenickie: Jean-Luc Cavnar-Lewandowski
Doody: RJ Silva
Roger: Henry Jenson
Sonny: Sergio Siller
Patty: Taylor Stephens
Cha-Cha: Gabriela Rodiles
Eugene: Ian White
Vince Fontaine: Matt Rubbelke
Johnny Casino: Andrew Forsyth
Teen Angel: Andrew Forsyth
Miss Lynch: Kate Habros
Radio Singer: Regan May
James Boehm
Zach Brill
Roger Choquette
Angelene Gray
Peyton Gurule
Christopher Herbst
Nicholas Longo
Cassie Malanche
Catherine Radichi
Maggie Rodriguez
Haley Rose
Patrick Ryan
Tierney Shea
Conner Waring
Nick Wren
Jenny Zeidler

Director: Teresa Corderman
Musical Director: Jerry Harkey
Choreographer: Christina Ulrich
Student Choreographer: Cassie Malanche
Stage Manager: Sophia Spadafore
Scenic Design/Director: Nathan Ward
Lighting and Sound Design: Preston Doyle
Prop Design: Ruth Ristow
Costume Design: Mary Romine


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