BWW Review: GREASE is the Word on the Waterfront at Riverbank Theatre
Summer lovin' had me a blast. Summer lovin' the show was over too fast. The Riverbank Theatre's summer production of Grease has had such a demand for tickets that they just added Wednesday night and Saturday matinee shows to its schedule that wraps Aug. 11.
The beachy musical is a perfect production for The Riverbank, since it's situated across the street from Marine City's waterfront and features a talented cast of musical theatre majors from across the country taking on the fun-loving roles of the students of Rydell High School.
We all know the story of the summer romance of Danny Zuko and Sandy Dombrowski. When Sandy transfers to Rydell and meets up again with Danny, her too-sweetness comes in conflict with his too-coolness. And all of the classic high-school teen angst is set to music against a pop backdrop of the 1950s.
The Riverbank Theatre's production of Grease, choreographed and directed by Brittany Everitt Smith, gives a high-spirited night out for the audience who will no doubt enjoy the antics of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Casting was well done with the show and especially shines in the lead couples.
As Danny and Sandy, Matthew Skrovan and Brianna Brady, do an excellent job of displaying sweet and awkward to edgy and daring, especially from the early song "Summer Nights" to the wrap-up "You're the One That I want." As Roger and Jan, Ian Francis and Katy MacCutcheon, are the comedic standouts of the group, particularly in "Mooning" and later in "Rock 'n Roll Party Queen" (along with Zachary Burnham as Doody). As Kenickie and Rizzo, Joshua Krol and Bianca Calisi are fiercely charismatic with tremendous vocal chops. Calisi is dynamic in both her "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" and "There Are Worse Things I could do" solos.
The couple who got the most applause was Krol and his car, aptly named Greased Lightnin.' Greased Lightnin' is so prominent to this production that it-- and deservedly so-- got a half-page in the program devoted to the teamwork and logistics of getting a full-size 1948 Mercury on and off the Riverbank stage. The "Greased Lightnin'" and "Alone at the Drive-in Movie" numbers had all the wow-factor--on a rotating turntable no less--and more.
Audience favorite Aaron Dennis Smith, who was just seen onstage at Riverbank's sister theatre, The Snug, in Moonlight and Magnolias a few weeks ago, does not disappoint as the campy Teen Angel in the fun number "Beauty School Dropout." The clever costumes of that number, along with the authentic '50s styling of the rest of the show, were expertly designed by Hannah Beecher and Kathy Vertin. Everitt Smith's choreography with her stellar cast made all of the numbers energetic and enjoyable.
Don't be alone at the drive-in, come in from the heat, and enjoy the ride at The Riverbank Theatre. Grease runs through Aug. 11. The Riverbank and Inn on Water Street have special Stay, Play and Dine and Dinner, Show and Afterglow packages available. Go to www.riverbanktheatre.com to make reservations.
Photo: Joshua Krol (Oxford, MI) and Bianca Calisi (Grosse Pointe, MI) play Kenickie and Rizzo and are both studying Musical Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College