Written on September 22nd, 2009


Grease rehearse

Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Directed by Susan Ferley
Choreography by Amy Wright
Musical direction by David Hall
Performed by Students of the High School Project
Grand Theatre, London
September 22 to October 3, 2009
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

Students Rock the Grand with Grease

The Grand Theatre has done it again – taken 69 eager high school kids and put together a show with all the trappings of professional theatre. Students make up the cast, crew and musicians for the production of Grease, always an audience favourite. Written in the 70s to poke fun at the 50s, Grease is the story of tough guy Danny who falls for goody-two-shoes Sandy. To stay together, Sandy has to abandon her girl-next-door looks and attitude. Taking place in a high school, the story covers many of the timeless issues that teenagers face.

Last year’s High School Project, Pirates of Penzance, left us amazed at the many wonderful singing voices. This year’s Grease blew us away with astounding choreography. Credit goes to choreographer Amy Wright for the lively and energetic dance numbers. She takes full advantage of the students who can do acrobatic tricks, working them into dance numbers to the delight of the audience.

Thomas Pardo of North Middlesex District High School has some fantastic moves as Danny Zuko, and Jordan Spradbrow has a delightful singing voice as Sandy Dumbrowski.

Matthew Fuller as Teen Angel has a outstanding voice. His rendition of “Beauty School Drop Out” is very well done and he flips effortlessly into a clear falsetto, Frankie Valli style. A.J. MacDonald as Roger also demonstrates a wonderful singing voice in the Mooning song.

Comedy is provided by two talented actors: Jordan Baldwin as Doody, the over-eager sidekick, and Quentin Hall as Eugene, the nerdiest dweeb at the dance. Christine McKeon is a lively Patty Simcox and Lauren Zavitz is an adorable Frenchy.

Two Strathroy District High School students are in the ensemble: Dan Newton and Jonathan Gysbers. Jonathan provides the voice of the radio announcer, as well.

The set is good – the audience enjoys the “Greased Lightening” car, and all the cars at the drive-in are well done. Costumes are very well done – a variety of 50s clothing from poodle skirts to authentic-looking leather jackets. Congratulations to all the student crew members.

Normally, I like sitting in orchestra seats close to the stage. But this is one show where sitting in the balcony provides the best view. To fully enjoy the large cast and the incredible big dance numbers, one needs to see the entire stage. “We Go Together”, the Act I closing number, and “Born to Hand-Jive” at the school dance with the energetic choreography are worth the ticket price alone. It is also great fun to see “You’re the One That I Want” which, although it is a favourite part of the movie, isn’t always included in the stage version. It’s rock and roll that makes Grease a great show, and this cast is certainly rockin’ and rollin’.

Grease continues at the Grand Theatre in London until October 3. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593.


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