Grease is a fascinating phenomenon. It takes place in a time period that shrieks parody, even for those of us who lived through it. From social clubs like the Pink Ladies to hot rod-fevered bad boys, everyone wants to look at the 1950s as a slice of nostalgic Americana, despite that the culture it celebrates began what a lot of people point to as the decline of youth. But what an effervescent slide it was.
The folks at FCLO have it nailed. Cast members showcase terrific solo numbers as well as big productions, and few disappoint. Although the story is silly-good girl transforms to win the guy of her dreams-somehow it seems refreshing.
Brian Brigham as Danny Zuko combines cocky braggadocio with an undercurrent of sweetness, just as the part demands. Robert Pieranunzi playing Kenickie is a great buddy for Danny, as well as the hot-blooded Romeo to Bets Malone's Rizzo. As Roger, Danny Stiles combines high energy, great pipes, and a flair for "Mooning" with girlfriend Jan (Colette Peters). Doody (Geoffrey Kidwell) is dynamite in "Those Magic Changes." And for his big solo, Teen Angel (John Schoenherz) has a falsetto that elevates "Beauty School Dropout" into a showstopper.
Malone makes a strong anchor for the ensemble. Rizzo is arguably the most interesting part in the show, and Malone captures every scene she's in, featured or not. Marty (Lowe Taylor) and Frenchy (Lola Ward) are accomplished, though their characterizations break no new ground. Peters is cute as the perpetually hungry tomboy. As Sandy, Michelle London delivers bland but well-executed musical numbers.
The creative team of director-choreographer Roger Castellano, scenic and costume designer Dwight Richard Odle, lighting designer Donna Ruzika, and music director-conductor Todd Helm greatly enhances the production. The pacing is brisk, the dancing energetic, and the voices first-rate. Though the actors are a bit older than one might visualize in these roles, they make up for it in professionalism and craftmanship.
Presented by Fullerton Civic Light Opera at Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. (Also Sun. 7 p.m. May 21 and Sat. 2 p.m. May 27.) May 12-28. (714) 879-1732. fclo.com.