BWW Review: GREASE at Admiralspalast - Grease is Still the Word!

BWW Review: GREASE at Admiralspalast - Grease is Still the Word!47 years after its Broadway debut and 40 years after John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sang and danced their way into the world's collective consciousness, GREASE is still the word!

This touring production of GREASE, which has been on the road in German-speaking Europe since October 2017 is an amalgam of both the original stage production and the 1978 film. The Admiralspalast in Berlin is the last stop of this mammoth production before taking a summer hiatus. Last night the T-Birds, Pink Ladies, and lovebirds Danny and Sandy gave a whizz-bang performance that thrilled the tough Berlin audience.

The musical numbers in the show were, almost without exception, very good. This was due, in no small part, to the fantastic choreography of Melissa Williams & Carla Kama. Taking the immortal dance moves from the film and making them uniquely their own, Ms. Wiliams and Ms. Kama created extremely effective musical stagings that work exceedingly well.

Alexander Jahnke as Danny was a runner-up on last year's "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" (the German version of "Idols.") While he certainly looks the part, though no pre-show announcement was made, Mr. Jahnke seemed to be very much under the weather. His singing was both cautious and strained and in the book scenes, he had very little energy. In this production, with a lot of powerhouse performances, he was totally eclipsed by his co-stars.

As Sandy, Veronika Riedl, a relative newcomer, was a very worthy successor to Ms. Newton-John. She's quite a strong singer and has a great stage presence that belies her lack of experience. She's someone to keep your eye on.

The most exciting singer onstage was Alexander Sasanowitsch as Kenickie. He's a powerhouse tenor with a huge upper extension that reminded one of Adam Lambert. Mr. Sasanowitsch turned "Greased Lightning" into a vocal showcase that was extraordinarily exciting.

The high point of GREASE was "Beauty School Dropout." Marc Chardon sang extremely well as Teen Angel and together with a group of over-enthusiastic, very comic dancing angels, they stopped the show. The audience response was ecstatic. Bravo!

BWW Review: GREASE at Admiralspalast - Grease is Still the Word!

Terry Parson's Set Design is effective, potent and had the "Wow" factor that musical producers hope for. With the exception of an unnecessary video montage during the overture, Nick Richard's Lighting and Video design were excellent. Director Christian Stadlhofer kept the show moving at a brisk pace and staged the musical numbers very well. One wished he had spent more time working with his performers on the book scenes. They were, for the most part, underwhelming. The dialogue has been updated somewhat, but not always beneficially. Body language, attitude and physical expression (especially Nuria Mundry's Rizzo) were a touch vulgar and certainly too modern for a show set in 1959. Now and again, Ms. Mundry reminded one more of a gangsta rapper than a 1950's bad girl.

There's nothing like hearing "Rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong" to get your toes tapping and put a smile on your face. This production of GREASE does exactly that and much more. "Wop ba-ba lu bop and wop bam boom!!


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From This Author Mark Janicello