Review: To glide into summer, try PTC’s ‘Grease’

Cast members from "Grease" pose for a photo at Pioneer Theatre. Courtesy photo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 15, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Pioneer Theatre Company wraps its 2018-2019 season with some light, campy fun.

“Grease,” with book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, plays through May 25.

As everyone knows, it’s a musical about teen love in the 1950s, and an awkward transition into the school year at Rydell High for summer sweethearts Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski.

And what was sweetly innocent in the summer is not cool enough for school, what with all the cliques to impress.

Think of every kind of teen angst, set to music, and placed in a world of girls in saddle shoes, poodle skirts, sweater sets and pedal pushers for the women, and boys in black leather jackets and greased back hair, or patterned short-sleeve shirts with jeans.

And throw in some mildly coarse language, some unwanted advances, and a scare about a “friend” who seems to be arriving late for a monthly visit. This show is recommended for teens and older, by the way.

This production, directed by PTC artistic director Karen Azenberg, is head and shoulders above the community theater and high school productions popular in Utah and, no doubt, elsewhere across the country. The actors are good at their campy roles, which could even go a little campier for more fun.

The sets, designed by James Noone, were a little slow to move around, but are fun to look at, and a second floor to Rydell High adds interest to choreographed numbers by Lenny Daniel. Costume designer Patrick Holt added color and personality to each character, and gave the audience authentic-looking details from the era.

Dave Anthony Vogel was a showstopper as Teen Angel. He added a level of fun that surpassed the rest of the show.

Really, the only problematic issue with “Grease” is that it seemed a little unambitious for Pioneer Theatre Company. Although the production was a cut above community theater in just about every way, it was not groundbreaking or thought provoking in the same way most PTC productions this season were.

But it was a light, enjoyable way to end the season and welcome the summer ahead, and you may just find yourself leaving the theater singing some of the memorable songs, such as “You’re the One That I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Summer Nights” or even “Beauty School Dropout.”

For more information on the theater or tickets, or for a preview of next year’s season, click here.


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