by Young Star Musical Theatre

Billy Reed and Charlotte Shipley. Photo by Scott Reed.The summer nights are coming to a close in Prescott, Arizona, and Young Star Musical Theatre is sending them off with a ramma lamma lamma, ka dinga da dinga dong. Otherwise known as the musical Grease, the musical parody of the Fifties that became a monster movie hit. The stage versions are now beginning to incorporate the hit songs added to the movie, mingling the movie script with the stage script. And in the student edition of Grease, the storyline is further modified, leaving any semblance to a story a challenge to find if you’re trying. So it’s probably best to just sit back and enjoy the great music and amusing characters and scenes. And with any show by Director Shmaine Posey, there’s bound to be a lot of creatively amusing scenes.

Due to several major last-minute changes, Billy Reed went from the role of Eugene/Teen Angel to the lead role of Danny. Obviously he’s a remarkably quick study, and delivered a good performance as the goofy but cool leader of the gang. Charlotte Shipley is co-lead Sandy, the good girl new to the school who dated Danny over the summer and is excited to unexpectedly meet him at her new school – until Danny sort of brushes her off by acting extra-cool around his friends. Charlotte has a look and sound nicely reminiscent of Olivia Newton-John as she sings Hopelessly Devoted and the stage song It’s Raining on Prom Night. The two characters also lead a couple of the most popular numbers, although in this case You’re the One That I Want had to be cut, leaving a bit of a letdown at the end. But Summer Nights went on and was a big hit.

Breanne De Menna and Nolan Sturdevant. Photo by Scott Reed.The stage version gives a lot more time to the friends of Danny and Sandy, which include Mallory Morganelli as the jaded Rizzo who is so jaded that she treats the romantic and peppy Summer Nights choreography with amusing boredom and half-hearted efforts to raise her hands in the air. Later she sings a good rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do (although, in the highly edited student edition, it doesn’t seem like she’s done anything so terribly wrong that would lead to the song). Nolan Sturdevant as Roger and Breanne De Menna as Jan have great chemistry and body language in their hilariously over-the-top performance as Roger describes his Mooning skills and dreams, and Jan expresses her desire to be his mooning muse. Kelsey Diefendorf is great as the pink-haired Beauty School Dropout who is alternately angry and dreamy over her guardian Teen Angel (a good cameo by emergency fill-in Isaac Cilano who works the crowd). Frenchy later adlibs well when all the cast changes led to a missing actor, with Frenchy swearing that she thought she just saw him on stage. When fellow cast member says she must have imagined it, Frenchy laments that her pink dye must be going to her brain.

Other highlights include Audrey Roberts who is a riot as totally out-of-control cheerleader Patty Simcox, at one point mindlessly twirling her baton and running circles around Danny and Sandy, at another point trying to get a dance with Danny by alternately leaning her head against his back and staring angrily at Rizzo. Mychal Semprun does a good job as school nerd Eugene who likes to smell Rizzo’s hair. Tom Shipley, Sandy’s real-life father, is a sunglasses-wearing Mr. Cool as disc jockey Vince Fontaine. Kenickie (Jacob Clark) and the guys steal the show with Greased Lightnin’ performed to Shmaine Posey’s totally fun choreography that includes the guys throwing off their leather jackets and doing jumping jacks, push-ups, and wax-on/wax-off maneuvers from The Karate Kid. And the whole cast shines in the big Hand-Jive contest. And it’s quite a theatre group that can take the confusion caused by so many critical changes just before the opening and still put on a great show, often just making light of any hiccups, and with great success!

Performs September 26-29, 2007

Photos by Scott Reed.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Photo by Scott Reed.Danny: Billy Reed
Sonny/Teen Angel: Isaac Cilano
Kenickie: Jacob Clark
Jan: Breanne De Menna
Frenchy: Kelsey Diefendorf
Ms. Lynch: Colleen Jonovich
Marty: Kayla Kite
Rizzo: Mallory Morganelli
Patty Simcox: Audrey Roberts
Doody/Eugene: Mychal Semprun
Vince Fontaine: Tom Shipley
Sandy: Charlotte Shipley
Cha-Cha: Vanessa Smith
Marty: Nicole St. Germain
Roger: Nolan Sturdevant

Mason Burchfield
Michael Ciraulo
Matt Clark
Richard Walter

Radio Singer:
Danielle Kean
Kyley Kean
Niki Rice

Jesie Adams
Katie Brandt
Krista Evers
Marney Henze
Carly Jonovich
Maddie Kloss
Kaileigh Koons
Rachel Logan
Rebekah Lutz
Lina Pham
Ashley Place
Lizzy Place
Kaitlyn Ramsey
Brittany Reed
Keri Skjei
Nicky Thompson

Director: Shmaine Posey
Musical Director: Debbie Place


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