BWW Reports: GREASE Is The Word At The Pearl Theater
Greasers, prom night, high school sweethearts, and drive-in movies. Yep, it's all about GREASE. The Off-Broadway theatrical debut is over 40 years old, but it's still a show that pulls in audiences and resonates with many generations. The Pearl Theater is presenting GREASE just as the school year kicks off, and it's apt timing considering GREASE takes place within the world of high school. On the surface it's a story about a group of working class kids who go to school together in the late 1950's. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, moral conflicts ensue, girl gives in and wears tight pants and red lipstick for boy. The end. Or is there more to it than that?
It's all about the music, baby!
Like many people, I have clear memories of dancing and singing to the soundtrack as a kid. People are in love with the songs. Renee Hinojosa, who plays Jan in The Pearl Theater's current production, agrees. "They love the music! Everyone knows how catchy and wonderful it is! I think everyone has seen, heard, sang, danced, and enjoyed at least one song from Grease, even if they have never seen the show or the musical."
With songs by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs, the music of GREASE is just pure fun and inclusive somehow, especially the tune "We Go Together". What, the nerds are singing and dancing with the cool kids? The preppy kids, too? Solid! I personally love the "updated" version of the show, with the kids of Rydell High singing the choral rendition of "We Go Together" instead of the original "Alma Mater" at the beginning. It's fresh, it's cool, and far more memorable. Other changes in the theatrical score are songwriter John Farrar's additions of "Hopelessly Devoted To You" and "You're The One That I Want". Both songs were added in the 2007 revival, and I have to say "You're The One That I Want" is a far better song than "All Choked Up", an earlier finale song that got the deserved boot. While "All Choked Up" sounds more like a 50's song, "You're The One That I Want" is embedded so deeply in everyone's brain that it just feels right. Interesting fact- the original Grease production featured an R-rated song called "Kiss It", which Sandy sang to Danny instead of "You're The One That I Want". The GREASE that opened Off-Broadway in the 1970s was reportedly far more inflammatory and angst-ridden, and most of the GREASE productions done today have a lighter focus than what was originally intended. Many songs in the show have a fun-loving vibe to them. The song, "Summer Lovin'" could make an old geezer feel young and frisky. The boy-meets-girl theme never gets old, and what better way to encapsulate it than with a song where the boy and girl get to sing their piece?
"Beauty School Drop-Out" channels the dreamy male singers of the 50's, such as Frankie Avalon and Ricky Nelson. In the Pearl Theater's production, the teen angel, played by Brandon del Castillo, appears to be the love child of a 1970's Elvis and Little Richard, a winning combination on all counts. The song has that pleading vibe of other great songs from the 50's, such as "Blue Moon" and "In The Still Of The Night".
One of my personal favorites from the theatrical version is the song "Mooning", wherein Roger and Jan seranade each other with a funny play on words. Roger is "the mooning champ of Rydell High", afterall. It's a simple, charming song entailing sweet flirtation. The whole "mooning" phenomenon brings back memories of "Friday Flip Up Day". If you were unlucky enough to be wearing a skirt on a Friday you'd get it flipped up. I went to a really, really good school.
Whether you're a 1950's fan or just want to enjoy some fun-loving music, GREASE offers up a host of great songs. The Pearl Theater has just launched their production of GREASE and it will run August 29-Sept 21. Are you in the mood for some fun? Grease is the word.
For tickets go to: http://www.pearl-theater.com