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BWW Review: GREASE is The Word at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma


Lyric Theatre's outdoor production of The American Musical is energetic and unique.

BWW Review: GREASE is The Word at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's 1971 hit musical Grease is known throughout the theatre and film worlds as The Great American Musical. The students of Rydell High have woven their way into American nostalgia as thoroughly as the era in which the show is based. The T-Birds and Pink Ladies, the classic cars and Oxford saddles, and all the musical numbers bring back a bygone time in history. Nostalgia and a good time are what's in store for audiences who come to Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma's all new outdoor production of Grease, running through June 27th at Bishop McGuinness High School.

The Pribil Football Stadium is transformed for the evening, becoming all at once a time machine and an authentic theatre-going experience. Production director Michael Baron and Scenic Designer Kimberly Powers utilize the space well, turning the football and track fields into a high school and the performance area. Large tables are rolled onto the field, acting as both cafeteria furniture and places to elevate the performers. At times it seems the tables are spread too far apart, and with the outdoor setting it's sometimes hard to distinguish where the speaker or singer is coming from. It would serve the production well to tighten up the scenes, creating more of a "stage" for the cast to interact.

When new girl Sandy comes to Rydell High, her presence causes a stir. The Pink Ladies - the baddest chicks around - want her to join them. But Sandy is innocent, a good girl, and she's intimidated by her worldly and experienced classmates. The T-Birds are interested in her too, and she's actually already met one. Sandy and Danny Zuko reunite during "Summer Nights". This musical number serves as a re-telling of events, and their stories don't quite add up. Sandy and Danny then must work to find their footing and figure out who they are, to themselves and each other.

Sydney Jones is a powerhouse as Sandy, stealing every scene and out-singing her counterpart. Jones is dynamic and heartfelt. Her version of Sandy is that of a strong-willed woman who knows what she wants. Jones is perfectly cast in this role, and she's a leading lady through and through. Joe Caskey as Danny Zuko gives his all in his performance, and manages to make his audience like him. That's a feat for a pretty hate-able character.

Faith Flanders is nerdy and delightful as Patty. She's a bit of a stickler for the rules and regulations, but she lets loose, when necessary. Flanders is energetic and feisty, a real crowd pleaser in every scene. Carter McPherson is adorable as Eugene, absolutely loveable and enjoyable to watch. Antonio Rodriguez is charming as Johnny Casino, but his standout moment occurs with everyone's favorite musical number. "Beauty School Dropout" is an earworm that will never leave you, and Rodriguez plays up the swagger, dazzling in pink and silver. This ensemble number is angelic and exciting, bringing a boost of energy late in Act II.

Anette Barrios-Torres is lovely as Jan, the Pink Lady with the bubbliest personality. Most performers overdo this character. She's a lot, but she's sweet. Barrios-Torres uses just the right amount of energy and control to create a fun and natural version of Jan. Gabby Rae Jimenez is statuesque and sexy as Rizzo. Jimenez is strong and well-suited to play Rizzo, arguably the most complex of the characters. Rizzo is a role that is easy to get wrong and hard to get right, and Jimenez knocks it out of the football field with her performance.

Gabriel Lemus has the whole audience "Mooning" over him during his standout musical number. He's the boy-next-door with a mischievous side, and Lemus plays up the puns and antics. Caleb Barnett as Kenickie absolutely rocks during "Greased Lightnin'", and if there were a roof above us, it would no-doubt come down. Barnett is a star, well-deserving of every praise a reviewer can type in one article. He's going places, and we're just lucky to get to see him at his start.

Anna McGuire as Frenchy is a sweet and relatable character. She struggles in school, but has hopes and dreams. Any Grease fan undoubtedly has a soft spot for Frenchy and her plight. McGuire plays her as endearing, a true homage to this iconic character.

Joel Stephens as Doody is uniquely talented and tenacious. Payton Ravoe Bioletto is alive and in love as Marty, the Pink Lady with an outside love interest. "Freddy My Love" is a great moment for Bioletto, and she sings her heart out. Bianca Bulgarelli as Cha Cha comes dressed to impress, and wins the dance competition single-handedly, without the help of her dance partner. Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente completes the cast of T-Birds as Sonny. Aburto de la Fuente is cute and energetic, dancing and singing full out.

Barbara Fox DeMaio as Miss Lynch and TJ Brown as Vince Fontaine complete the cast of adult characters. Both work hard to keep the energy flowing. DeMaio is a known and loved performer and teacher in Oklahoma City, and every time she's on stage or field, the production is better for it. Brown is well-cast as radio announcer Vince Fontaine. We all know his voice on real-life radio, and it's nice to see him performing again.

The ensemble dances and moves constantly, outside in the unforgiving mid-June temps. Their opulent costumes by Jeffrey Meek leave little breathing room, but the ensemble never misses a step or drops a smile. The hard working (and probably heavily sweating) ensemble cast is made up of Alisha Jury, Rodney Thompson, Bryson Jacobi Jackson, Holly O'Neal, Jayson Gorton, Erin Thompson, Catie Leonard, Jessica Cajina, Easton Edwards, Delaney Horton, Henry Evans, Abby Hesselroth, Jamaal Jackson, and Henry Cargill.

This is the most unique and enjoyable production of Grease I've witnessed to date. A musical this popular and, let's say it, old, is hard to make fresh and new again. It's dated, and at times that detail is more glaring than others. Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma has once again brought audiences a familiar show and made it feel brand new. There's inclusion, diversity, dancing, merriment, and a lot of nostalgia. It makes anyone want to "go back to high school", even if just for one magical Summer Night.

Lyric's outdoor production of GREASE runs until June 27th, 2021. This outdoor production is at an all-new venue; the football field at Bishop McGuinness High school, 801 NW 50th St, OKC, OK. Tickets are selling fast, and they're available at

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