Grease at the Westchester Broadway Theatre
Is It the One That You Want?
Grease comes to the Westchester Broadway Theatre
I have to admit it: I never loved the play Grease. I was never one of those teenyboppers who knew all the words to “Freddy, My Love” by heart and I have only faint memories of Olivia Newton-John telling John Travolta that he’s the one that she wants. I’d like to think that, even as a kid, I objected to the musical’s central message—that if you want to be popular and liked by boys, you have to give up your values and do whatever you can to fit in—but more likely I was reacting to my subjection to 1,000 lumbering high school performances and off-key karaoke versions of “Summer Nights.”
The Westchester Broadway Theatre’s production of Grease, while still burdened with the same objectionable moral, is, thankfully, no karaoke performance. At least that’s not the case with Jacqueline Colmer (Betty Rizzo), whose “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” soars and recalls Patti LuPone in all the best ways. Kasey Marino (Danny Zuko) has a consummate swagger and a crystal-clear falsetto—but Nathan Scherich’s (Roger) is even better, hitting notes so high that they steal applause just for themselves. The entire cast does well with the ’50s-kitsch backdrop of the show, switching from Jan & Dean wholesomeness to James Dean delinquency at the drop of a hat. This is aided by some pretty nifty staging, which can recall a glitzy American Bandstand one moment and a funky, glow-in-the-dark burger joint the next.
That said, the show works best when scenes come in solos and pairs. Songs like the cheekily (pardon the pun) choreographed “Mooning” and nostalgically endearing “Those Magic Changes” bring the musical to its full potential, embracing both the camp of the show and the teenage world of its characters. But when too many of those characters are crammed into one number—though the actors are all spirited and exuberant individually—they don’t always come together like rama-lama-lama. Unfortunately, this kind of messy chaos takes its toll on some of the most famous songs, like “Greased Lightnin’” and “We Go Together.” But there are plenty of other smaller, more manageable numbers throughout the play, so, for families, the Westchester Broadway Theatre is a good destination to while away those summer nights. It’ll be the last chance to see the musical before it heads to Broadway in June, starring a Danny and Sandy chosen by the American public through an American Idol-style reality show. Now talk about bad karaoke.
Through May 26
Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford (914) 592-2222