Welcome to rerun time at Theatre Downtown, but remember that reruns really can improve onstage. It's still 1959 at Rydell High, a miserable school in a miserable neighborhood filled with petty crime and great singers. Rather than a parade of dispirited teens with no future, tonight we see a feel-good, feel-up-the-girls sort of show.
Danny Zuko (Jared Slater) returns from summer vacation armed with tales of a hot woman, and newcomer Sandy D (Jackie Prutsman) hopes to fit in, still glowing from the memory of a smoldering gentleman dripping charm and grease from his ducktail. But it will take more than a duet to unite them, as the Rydell power system requires that Zuko treat Sandy like crap, and that she has to love it. Kenickie (Stephen Pugh) treats Betty Rizzo (Sara Jones) the same way, and look how happy they are: He's bought a junk car and she's feeling a bit pregnant. At least they're better off than Frenchy (Jennifer Gannon), who can't even make it in hairdressing school. A few more blowout numbers, and it looks as if Rydell really IS the high point of these kids' lives.
While sharper and lighter overall than last year's production, this can of Grease loses its energy in the second-act prom scene. It struggles mightily to recover, succeeding with the curiously arranged "You're the One That I Want." (This song was added for the 1978 movie version, and gives the piece a much sharper ending.) There are plenty of smaller peaks along the way, such as "Those Magic Changes," sung by Carlos Saenz's Doody. There's strong chemistry between Pugh and Jones, although Prutsman's Sandy fades into the background and Slater's Zuko seems more like Eddie from The Rocky Horror Show. Overall, it's a fun show, well-executed and entertaining. If you enjoyed high school, it will bring back fond memories. And if you didn't, well, it will take you somewhere you've never been. Isn't that why we come here every week?
Through April 2
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