The Little Theater on the Square
OK, this is the one I've been waiting for all year -- to see how this version compares to the one from 5 years ago. But before I talk about this one, you'd best go see what I'm comparing it too -- the first one.
All done? So, you ask, how did it compare? It started out the same, with the same guy playing records from his perch above the stage, but this time we added the terrible twosome (Patty and Eugene) running around doing school activity kind of stuff. Patty (played by the same girl who played Ado Annie, one of the bright spots of Oklahoma) was appropriately dressed as the head cheerleader (as opposed to the micro skirted girl from the first show), and instead of having her and Eugene sing the school song, they had a school choir singing "we go together" in 4 part school choir harmony. Danny was played by the company's younger leading man, who had 95% of the look (except when he'd bow to the audience, and you'd notice how thin his hair was getting on top), Sandy was played by one of the newcomers (her first leading role), and while not as cuddly cute as Olivia, seemed a reasonable choice. Kenickie was played by the same guy who played sidekicks all season long, and Rizzo was played by a girl who was a dead ringer for Juliet Lewis (which made it a little tough to mentally connect her with the part at first). Johnny Casino was played by the only black person in the cast, and looked like a cross of every pompadored black rock and roll star from the '50's, including Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. Frenchy was played by the woman who played Flaemmchen in Grand Hotel (she even wore the same bad wig) -- and the rest of the cast was well chosen too.
The script was different this time -- I already mentioned the change in the opening -- and some bits seemed tweaked to be more like the film (which is what most everyone thinks Grease is supposed to be). It was more fun than the last production -- Vince Fontaine interacted a bit more, especially during the intermission when Patty and Eugene took pictures of people looking like Danny and Sandy for $3. OK, there were a few anachronisms -- Yamaha guitars in 1958 -- the soundtrack of the movie was lifted from Young Frankenstien -- and Sandy's record player was made of plastic, instead of tweed covered wood -- but that's to be expected in a small production like this. The big thing -- it was a lot better than the last time, and one of the better productions this year.