Long Islander Review: Engeman’s ‘Grease’ is Electrifying

The Long Islander

July 20, 2017

Janee Law

 

Audience members experienced high energy, fun choreography and lots of laughter during Thursday night’s show of the John W. Engeman Theater’s electrifying production of “Grease.”

The production, which kicks off the theater’s 11th season, is based off the 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, which inspired the classic 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

Audiences are brought back to the late 1950’s at Rydell High, where leather jackets, bobby socks and greasy slicked back hair were the latest fashion.

With Paul Stancato directing and Antoinette DiPietropolo managing choreography, the cast lit up the stage last Thursday with dance numbers that made audience members whistle and holler in satisfaction.

In “Greased Lightnin’,” actors delivered a colorful performance jumping and jiving and pumping their arms on stage. Kenickie (Chris Stevens) was on lead vocals for the number, and gave an effortless and powerful performance while both singing and dancing.

The show doesn’t fall short on laughs either. Gags like Patty Simcox’s (Kaitlin Nelson) comical way of flirting, Sonny LaTierri’s (Casey Shane) failed attempt to make moves on the ladies, or Roger (Chris Collins-Pisano) and Jan’s (Hannah Slabaugh) hysterical rendition in “Mooning,” keep the laughs coming.

With that, the production touches on the pressures and stressors of being a high school teen in “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” performed by Betty Rizzo (Madeleine Barker).

Rizzo delivers an intense performance and captivates audiences with powerful vocals as a teen faced with a difficult situation.

Audience member Laurel Breen, of Sea Cliff, said after the show that was her favorite scene of the night.

“When Rizzo sang her number, she really stood out,” Breen said. “She was really on pitch tonight and it was a turning point for her character, as it should have been.”

Sandy Dumbrowski (Liana Hunt) also stood out on stage as the innocent school girl turned bad, demanding Danny Zuko (Sam Wolf) to “shape up” in the bouncy number “You’re The One That I Want.”

“This character takes such a huge journey throughout the show and where she ends up is so different from where she began,” Hunt said after the show. “That’s kind of all you can ask for in a role and where she ends up happens to be in spandex and giant heels. I’m having a great time.”

When preparing for the role as Danny, Wolf said it involved having his own interpretation of the character and getting down to the basics of the script.

“The main thing for Danny was the sincerity in him,” Wolf said. “He’s not just this player, he really is very genuine, very sincere, especially when he’s with Sandy.”

He added that he is having the time of his life playing the iconic role.

“As painful as high school can be, it’s kind of fun to go back and relive that experience and do that coming of age story again,” Wolf said. It’s so much fun.”

Productions of “Grease” at The John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., Northport) are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets ($73-$78) are available at the box office or Engemantheater.com.

Read online: http://www.longislandernews.com/life-and-style/engemans-grease-is-electrifying

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