Monday, August 11, 2014

"You're the one that I want..." Review of "Grease" by Michelle Libby

Grease premiered last weekend at the Windham Town Hall as the summer show of Windham Center Stage Theater. The upbeat musical keeps your toes tapping from the opening song to the final number. 

The ensemble cast is incredibly talented and no one person stole the show, although Kenickie played by Anthony DeRice doing backflips was pretty awesome. 

The show Grease is the story of young love set in the backdrop of Rydell High in the 1950s. It answers the question if summer love can survive through the school year. 

The cast of 25 consists of students in junior high to adults from Windham, Gorham, Portland and Raymond. Giovan Corsetti plays Danny Zuko, Allison Sample plays Sandy Dumbrowski (which was not her last name in the movie.) Other cast members were Patrick Martin as Doody, Nathan Bachner as Sonny and Andrew Shepard as Roger. The pink ladies were Rizzo played by Molly Olsen, Shelbi Wassick as Frenchy, who had more wardrobe changes then a 6-year-old playing dress up, Dimitra Corsetti as Marty and Alexandra Gordan as Jan. Patty Simcox was Casey Hutchinson. “This is one of the most fun roles I’ve ever had to play,” she said. Eugene was played by Morgan Brann. The casting was amazing and from the acting could remember who the character was from the movie, but the actors made each person come alive on the stage in their own personal way.  

The show is directed by Laurie Shepard, no stranger to theater in the area.

“The show is classic Grease. We do the show justice,” she said.  The cast began rehearsals in June and have put in hundreds of hours of work, according to Shepard. 

Shepard has been helped by her team of producer Mnemosyne Heileman, musical director Robert Chabora, choreographer Abigail Worthing, property mistress Patrice Foley-Olsen, set builder Ed Haibon, lighting designer Michaela Denoncourt and costume designer Pat Hutchinson. 

“This is my dream show,” said Shepard, who wrote a 50-page paper on the play while in school.
Small updates have taken place from boys being in the beauty school to tweaks in the script to make room for the ensemble cast. “Everyone has their moment,” Laurie said. 

“Laurie brings humor to (directing). She’ll show you how to do it if you’re doing it wrong,” said Julia Hills from Windham. 

Jaydie Allen plays Chacha and this is the tenth production she has been cast. “It was the role I wanted. I’ve been a competitive dancer since I was three,” she said. “I’m really thrilled to be in this show.”

Destiney Starkey is in the ensemble. This is her first show. She was inspired to try out for the show when she saw Footloose three years ago. “I love Grease,” she added. 

Windham Center Stage Theater does not own their own theater, so they use the one at the Windham Town Hall, but are directly affected by the town’s schedule, so the show is only running two weeks total. 

Andrew Shepard plays Roger, one of the T-birds. His favorite part of the play has been all of the down time with the cast. “Who doesn’t love Grease,” he added. 

DeRice (Kinickie) said, “I have always loved the movie. This whole time era of the show is awesome. Older folks, even the young kids will enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s a classic.” 

One of the most controversial parts of the play, that might make it more of a PG rating, would be the fake smoking and swearing on stage. It was the time, according to Shepard, who wanted to make sure the show was as authentic as possible. Each actor who has a cigarette has permission from a parent or guardian to use the prop. If a child has seen the movie, they’re fine to see this play.

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