Review: Hopelessly Devoted to Grease! At The 5th Avenue through August 2nd.

Guest reviewer: Billie Puyear

I remember my first introduction to the music of Grease was in sophomore year of high school. One of the popular girls asked me (ME!) to come over to her house and we were going to dye our hair together! I still have to most vivid memory of singing “Greased Lightnin” into hair brushes in her bathroom mirror thinking “this is the funniest thing I have ever done!”

So when I put on my petticoat and saddle shoes and headed to The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Grease last Thursday, let’s just say I had some elevated expectations. I am happy to say that the old gang at Rydell High did not disappoint. Setting the stage for this evening of awesome were The Dusty 45s. Their performance was amazing and may or may not have contained a flaming trumpet! (and the show is just getting started? I’m in!)

The Dusty 45s transition seamlessly into a show filled with all those hair brush and car trip ballads that we know and love.

As a perk, there are songs performed that I knew from the album that were never in the movie. It felt like when you found the hidden track at the end of your CD for the first time, but you already knew all the words!

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Listening to the stage versions of songs that I had heard only in the film was a totally different experience as well. Solea Preiffer (Sandy) delivers a performance of “Hopelessly Devoted to You” that is filled with such heartbreak, it was like I was hearing it for the first time. Also Bryan Gula’s (Danny) rendition of “Alone at a Drive-In Movie” is both funny and sincere. The entire cast is able to take the characters that we have all known and loved for years and manage to make them their own, adding their own twist on beloved classics I was singing along to (singing mostly in my head, but I won’t lie, I couldn’t help myself a few times).

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It was fantastic to learn of The 5th Avenue’s commitment to arts education and that many in the cast had been affected by the outreach and programming such as Adventure Musical Theatre and The Rising Star Project. Who doesn’t love a happy ending.

If you’re anything like me (and if so we should totally hang out), you will thoroughly enjoy this production of Grease. It is the perfect blend of nostalgia, talented performers and good old fashioned fun. Grease runs July 9 – August 2, so polish off those dancing shoes, buy your tickets and get ready to hand jive at the high school hop!

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Photos: Greased Lightnin by Mark Kitaoka. Sandy and Danny and The Company of Grease by Tracy Martin.

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