Review: Old Creamery stages slick 'Grease'

Jump-jivin' musical is delightful blast from the past

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AMANA — More than half a century ago, teens were hanging in cliques, going to dances, getting in trouble, stealing kisses at the movies, trying to fit in and trying to impresses their crushes.

Funny how some things never change.

“Grease” is set squarely in 1959, with cool characters and songs that never grow old.

The 1971 musical, nominated for seven Tony Awards, is jumping and hand-jiving all over the Old Creamery Theatre’s main stage through Oct. 2. It opened Thursday (9/8) to hoots, cheers, laughter and lots of applause.

The small professional company lacks the space and budget to put a cast of thousands on a splashy set. Instead, the Creamery hired a top-notch group of young actors with enough energy to light up a village and the vocal chops to make audiences swoon. Toss in the hilarious antics of director Sean McCall and company favorite Marquetta Senters, and everything goes together like shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom.

The set pieces are spare but colorful, with giant pink and blue boxes creating three levels above the stage for the actors to romp around. The one in the center hides the hot rod-wannabe dubbed Greased Lightning. Its every entrance drives home the visual effect that a few key set pieces can make.

Everyone in the cast makes a visual imprint, too, and all the songs pack a wallop, under the skilled direction of Corridor pro Janelle Lauer and the dynamite choreography of Keegan Christopher and Katie Colletta, who also are in the cast and are married in real life.

The summer romance of goody-two-shoes Sandy Dumbrowski and bad-boy Danny Zuko sparks the show’s conflict and charm when they meet up at school. She’s new to Rydell High, and when she bumps into Danny on the first day of classes, sparks fly. He’s already bragged about their summer lovin’ to his Burger Palace buddies, and the Pink Ladies, led by tough-talking Rizzo, decide it’s their mission to shake up her sugar and nice with a liberal dash of spice.

Cassie Thompson and Conor Schulz shine in the leading roles, but they’re surrounded by such strong performances that captivating moments happen in the shadows, too.

Senters throws her comic best into the role of stuffy Miss Lynch, who gets sloshed on the spiked punch at the high school dance, and casts all her hangups to the wind.

Lindsey Cline is delightfully chirpy as peppy cheerleader Patty Simcox. Sarah Hoch is red-hot as Betty Rizzo, and sings out her angst in “There are Worse Things I Could Do,” the emotional high point of the show. Kent Reynolds as Roger shines on “Mooning,” and Jim Vogt adds a little Elvis twist to Kenickie’s slick “Greased Lightnin’.”

This delightful snapshot of the past will have you reaching for your bobby sox and Brylcreem.

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