Review Roundup: GREASE at Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival; What Did The Critics Think?
The Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival (FLMTF) proudly launches its 2019 season with the smash hit Grease. The show runs June 5 through June 26 at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Emerson Park. This year marks the company's 61st season which also includes Grand Hotel, South Pacific, Working, A Musical, and Loch Ness, a New Musical.
In the iconic roles of Danny and Sandy - Michael Notardonatoas Danny and Heather Makalani (Broadway: Aladdin) both make their Festival debuts, respectively. The Pink Ladies are Mia Gerachisas Rizzo, Megan Kaneas Frenchie, Jessie Davidson as Marty, and Elizabeth Adabaleas Jan. The T-Birds are Noah Bridgestockas Kenickie, Jack Cahill-Lemme as Sonny, Nick Martinezas Doody, and Travis Przybylskias Roger. Viveca Chowappears as Patty, Trent Soyster as Eugene and Elizabeth Yanick as Cha Cha. Darius Harper(National Tour: Kinky Boots) will play Vince Fontaine / Teen Angel with Mrs. Lynch being played by Lindsey Alley(TV: Jessica Jones, How I Met Your Mother). The Grease ensemble will feature: Anju Cloud, Lauren Soto, and Robert Serrano.
The show is directed by Igor Goldinwho directed FLMTF's Austen's Pride and Sweeney Todd. Phil Colgan, who appeared as a dancer in FLMTF's West Side Story and Saturday Night Fever makes his debut as choreographer and longtime FLMTF resident musical director, Corinne Aquilina, conducts. The Festival welcomes scenic designer Nate Bertone, returning lighting designer Jose Santiago and resident costume designer, Tiffany Howard.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Linda Lowen, syracuse.com: "Grease" is a show that appeals to young and old; I saw the expected number of elders in the audience while in the row in front of me, two middle schoolers dressed in faux-leather jackets with tough-guy fifties-styled hair enjoyed themselves -- though they were short enough to require booster seats supplied by a helpful usher. It's a show that proves you needn't have lived through a decade to feel warm and fuzzy about it. Perhaps more than any other musical, "Grease" embodies those seven words most commonly heard in the theater just before the curtain rises: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.Don't come to analyze or criticize lyrics like "Tell me more, tell me more, did she put up a fight?"; they're now recognized as cringeworthy thanks to #MeToo, but if you 'go there' you'll find fault with much of the show. Accept it for what it is: devoid of deep meanings, universal themes, textured characterizations. It's a show driven by the desire to entertain, pure and simple, and if you just wanna have fun, "Grease" delivers miles of smiles and a night of nostalgic delight.
Natasha Ashley, BroadwayWorld: As far as the performances go, it's clear that the cast members do indeed have good voices. However, their chemistry with one another was basically non-existent at times - and some of the performances were dull and robotic at times. Yes, they memorized their lines, but the energy you usually find in this typically fun show did not come across in many of the performances. All in all, Greaseat the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse a fun show thanks to the familiar and catchy musical numbers. People of all ages love the songs and the story - and rightly so. The vocals are good, the look of the show is outstanding, but unfortunately the chemistry and energy are lacking overall. The show will, without a doubt, fill the seats thanks to the title, but the production is disappointing.
David Wilcox, Auburn Pub: If I had to guess, the casts of the 1983 and 1998 productions of "Grease" at Merry-Go-Round probably resembled the Italian-American faces of the 1978 John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John starrer. Most casts do. This season's opener, however, looks much more diverse. There are several performers of color, from the featured roles to the modest ensemble, and that makes this production of "Grease" not only more representational, but positively more modern. But spare me any lines about that same diversity being unrealistic: It's "Grease." Chill. Still, "Grease" is the word - so that cast nevertheless dons the leather jackets and cherry varsity letters of Rydell High. And from their wardrobe to the slick dos and bowtied curls atop their heads, the festival's visual game is polished as ever in "Grease." The set is particularly dynamic, pairing a catwalk with window panels that director Igor Goldin puts to creative use for choreography and scene setting. There's even a real car, Greased Lightnin' itself, that's carefully dollied onto the stage through one of those panels by a crew member wearing coveralls and motor oil.