by Shawn Stalter
published on Monday, March 4, 2019 on OnStageBlog.com
It was apparent from the sea of “Pink Ladies” shirts, scarves, poodle skirts, leather jackets and throwback hairdos that the sold-out crowd at Fort Worth’s Casa Mañana arrived ready to pay homage to the much-cherished, iconic musical, Grease.
This catchy jukebox musical rock-and-roll romp takes the audience back to a late 1950s high school where the T-Birds and Pink Ladies navigate their way through the trials and tribulations of teenage-dom set to the backdrop of wildly-catchy tunes. Premiering on Broadway in 1972, Grease soared on the wings of the first tangible cresting wave of American baby-boomer nostalgia. Then, adapted for the big screen in 1978, it became a mega-hit with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta performing the lead roles of “Sandy” and “Danny.” Over 40 years later, Grease still sits well postured on the list of seminal American musicals.
The audience, literally sweating with excitement inside the packed theatre, included a diverse crowd of all ages and walks of life. As the drama of teenage dating, romance and sexual innuendo played out on stage; I couldn’t help but wonder what the teens here tonight thought of the dynamics unfolding before their eyes. Could the young ladies see themselves reflected in the faces and the attitudes of the Pink Ladies? Did the teen boys in the audience find hints of “toxic masculinity” in the T-Birds’ swagger?
Regardless of the greater debate about the underlying message Grease delivers and the applicability its content has to our era, this cast’s performance was on-point. They navigated celebrated classics including “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” “You’re the One that I Want” and more with pitch-perfect, well-choreographed ease and charm.
Stars Mary Mattison and Rico LeBron brought the leading roles of “Sandy” and “Danny” to life with technical precision. Additionally, Winston Daniels’ inspired performance and soaring voice as “Teen Angel” in “Beauty School Dropout” woo’d the audience and was a true highlight of the show. Other standout performances include Zak Reynolds as “Vince Fontaine”, Madison Kauffman as “Jan” and Austin Hohnke as “Kenickie.”
While it may not have completely delivered the pounding, “dance-in-the-aisle” energy the audience anticipated, the cast delivered a well-rounded, dynamic performance sure to quicken the pulse of Grease fans of all ages.
Tickets available at bit.ly/Grease-at-Casa
Check out onstageblog.com.
Photo credit: Curtis Brown