July 13, 2017
Move over Olivia Newton John.
Grease opened at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport last week and Liana Hunt is a blockbuster as Sandy D. in this musical classic journey with the Rydell High School class of 1959. Ms. Hunt is a veteran of the Engeman stage, having played here two shows ago as the lead female Emma in Jekyll & Hyde. She was terrific as Emma, but Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease is a perfect role for Ms. Hunt. When she hits the stage in the closing scene as a transformed bad girl in leather, Ms. Hunt exudes the sexiness the role demands, but it is her voice that steals the show.
In the spotlight she shines, an actress who can sing as well as any other who has come to the Northport theater, and that’s saying something. She has performed in Newsies and Mamma Mia! on Broadway, and as Sandy D at the Engeman she delivers on Main Street a Broadway performance.
A 15-voice chorus singing “Alma Mater” starts the show off, then the classics start rolling, “Grease is the Word,” followed by “Summer Nights,” the introduction of Sandy D. and her crush Danny Zuko, played by Sam Wolf, another Engeman veteran who performed as Riff in West Side Story. Everyone knows this one – “Tell me more, tell me more…” – and the Engeman version is as Grease as it gets.
There are also some great treats in this show. Laura Helm’s version of Marty in “Freddy My Love” is excellent and the full company of T-Birds and Pink Ladies in “We Go Together” is perfect. Also, Zach Erhardt as Doody in his performance on the acoustic guitar of “Those Magic Changes” – “What’s that playing on the radio…” another one of those songs everyone knows when they hear it – is terrific.
Grease is a story line that we all know, and the Engeman cast is talented and fun to watch. Their versions of the classics “Shakin’ at the High School Hop” and “Born to Hand-Jive” is fast, furious and fun. And, “You’re the One That I Want” – another classic everyone knows when they hear it: “I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying…” – is delivered as a great climax to the show.
But, Ms. Hunt as Sandy D makes Grease a must see at the Engeman Theater. Her Act II performance of the classic “Hopelessly Devoted to You” is the highlight of the show.
Get tickets to this one, because they will likely sell out.