Thursday, May 14, 2009

GREASE - 5th Avenue Theatre

5th Avenue Theatre
May 12 - 30, 2009

Photo from the Broadway cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.

If you weren't sure what the word is, the 5th Avenue Theatre is here to remind you that it's "GREASE!" Coming to Seattle from the Broadway production kicked off by the NBC reality-show series "You're the One That I Want," this new production of GREASE features several "as-seen-on-TV" sensations as well as a production team of tried and true Tony-winning theatre-makers. Allie Schulz (Rizzo) follows this production from "You're The One That I Want" to Broadway to this national tour and its stop here in Seattle. Emily Padgett (Sandy) also comes from understudying for Sandy on Broadway and Eric Schneider (Danny) was most recently seen touring the nation in The Full Monty and Altar Boyz. Of course, we must note that Taylor Hicks, winner of American Idol Season Five makes an appearance as the Teen Angel.

In all likelihood, anyone coming to the 5th Avenue knows GREASE. Many may even know the less well-known feature film GREASE 2 starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Therefore, I won't spend much time describing the story or how much goofy fun it is to see this show live, but instead focus on what particularly stands out in this particular production. Director Kathleen Marshall (Tonys for The Pajama Game and Wonderful Town) brings together an all-star production team to surround the action on stage with some truly spectacular theater engineering. Standing far out is the lighting design by Kenneth Posner (Tony Nominated for Wicked, Hairspray and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). His work is a show in and of itself and especially amps up the already energetic and fun experience of GREASE live. Marshall's choreography, as well, is spectacular and a blast to watch.

If you are an American Idol fan you will get quite a kick out of watching Taylor Hicks on stage. If you are not, then he may seem not to fit quite as well with the rest of the production. His vocal style is from a different genre altogether which is not to say it is bad. Quite the contrary, he is an impressive and talented performer who puts his all into the show. However, the hype ought to be spread more evenly, especially to performers like Emily Padgett whose vocal power and control was made for the Broadway stage.

GREASE is exactly what you would hope and expect it to be. The 5th Avenue tops off its season well with such an exciting and bright show and we look forward to their next season including South Pacific, Legally Blonde and Norbert Leo Butz and Kerry Butler in Catch Me If You Can as well as many others. For GREASE, the tip of the day is that with a show clocking in somewhat shorter than many 5th Ave shows (only about two and a quarter hours), if you're a reality-show watcher, stick around after the curtain call. If you're not, then I leave it to your discretion.

Review by Andrew J. Perez

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