BWW Review: GREASE at Noel S. Ruiz Theatre
The Pink Ladies and the Burger Palace Boys have claimed their turf at the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre in Oakdale through May 7 in a delightfully nostalgic production of "Grease."
This particular production combines the spirit and book of the original Broadway show with many of the popular songs audiences have come to love that were featured in the film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, which has gained cult status since its 1978 release.
With iconic tunes like "Summer Nights," "We Go Together," "You're the One that I Want" and the titular "Grease," theatre-goers will be transported back to an era of sock hops and greasers by a cast overflowing with triple threats.
At the heart of the show are Danny and Sandy - two star-crossed lovers who reunite at Rydell High School after a summer fling. However, their relationship becomes complicated when Danny is faced with the expectations of his friends.
Steve Cottonaro gives a charismatic performance as Danny Zuko, channeling his inner Travolta while still making the role his own. And as Sandy, M.E. Junge shows her range as she transforms from ingenue into sex symbol.
However, as an ensemble piece, the show is nothing without its supporting cast. Fortunately director and choreographer PatRick Grossman has assembled the best of the best. Debbie Hecht shines as the sardonic and troubled Betty Rizzo with show-stopping renditions of "Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee" and "There are Worse Things I Could Do" while Andrew Murano gives an equally skilled performance as her love interest, Kenickie, leading the "electrifying" number "Greased Lighting."
Rounding out the cast of Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys are Ashley Nicastro as the sultry Marty, Chris Loeschner as the waggish Sonny, Kristen Digilio as the loveable Frenchy and Ronnie Green - also wearing the hat of resident costumer designer extraordinaire - as the innocently endearing Doody. Also included are Noelle Eichenlaub as Jan and Sean Burbige as Roger, who earn the title of serial scene stealers with their perfect comic timing and undeniable chemistry.
Gabrielle Farah as Patty Simcox, Ryan Cavanagh as Eugene, Linda Pentz as Miss Lynch, Samantha Rosario as Cha Cha, and Rob Schindlar as Vince Fontaine all impressed in their roles as well, utilizing every moment on stage to establish their memorable characters.
And in honor of the performing art center's 30th anniversary, this production will feature eleven CM alumni favorites portraying the Teen Angel throughout the run. On opening night, Danny Amy - who played Doody and Danny in past CM productions of "Grease" - showcased his vocal brilliance as he serenaded Ms. Digilio in "Beauty School Dropout."
With vibrant costumes, eye popping sets and no shortage of talent, Mr. Grossman and his team may have revealed why in fact "Grease" is the word.
"Grease" is presented by The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre of Oakdale, Long Island through May 6. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-218-2810 or visit www.cmpac.com
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs and WarRen Casey with additional music by John Farrar. Directed by PatRick Grossman, Musical Direction by Matthew W. Surrico, Choreography by PatRick Grossman, Scenic Design by PatRick Grossman, Costume Design by Ronald Green III, Lighting Design by Alison Weinberger, Sound Design by Nicolette Carosi, Stage Management by Karen Tese.
Starring: Steve Cottonaro as Danny Zuko, M.E. Junge as Sandy Dumbrowski, Debbie Hecht as Betty Rizzo, Andrew Murano as Kenickie, Noelle Eichenlaub as Jan, Sean Burbige as Roger, Kristen Digilio as Frenchy, Ronnie Green as Doody, Chris Loeschner as Sonny Latierri, Ashley Nicastro as Marty, Gabrielle Farah as Patty Simcox, Ryan Cavanagh as Eugene Florczyk, Samantha Rosario as Cha-Cha Degregorio, Rob Schindlar/Jason Dowdell as Vince Fontaine, Linda Pentz as Miss Lynch.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Caracciolo