Summer Lovin’ at Theatre by the Sea

Theatre by the Sea’s new take on an old classic

by Khrysta Ryan

In the 81st year, Theatre by the Sea’s 2014 summer season is packed full of nostalgic shows including Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show, Grease, Disney’s Mary Poppins and Monty Pythons Spamalot. Friday marks the opening night of their second show of the season, Grease, running through July 19. 9863467_orig“Who doesn’t love a good ole’ classic tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and then gets her back again? This show is definitely our fan favorite. We have it all…The car, the Pink Ladies, the drive-in and a lot of Brylcreem,” explains director and choreographer, Kevin Hill.

Theatre by the Sea owner, Bill Hanney, chooses each season’s shows with intent of “pleasing the audience” as explained by Hill. The nostalgic message and happy ending allows the subscribers, mostly ages 65 and older, to relive their high school years. Hill went on, “[We] wanted to give the audience what they want,” in this rendition of the classic film. Hill mirrored the movie with reenactments of the “Hand Jive” and “Grease Lightening” among others. All of the actors were triple threats, he explained of his casting process–able to sing, dance and act. Few of the actors casted in Grease and other Theatre By the Sea productions are local– most come from the Boston Conservatory or New York. To keep the high school feel of the show, Hill kept the age ranges pretty young for the actors. Many of them college students or recent graduates.

Hill and Hanney worked together to take the best parts of each screenplay to try and reenact the original 1978 film. From the black leather T- Birds jackets to the infamous Pink Ladies coats, all of the memorable parts of the movie were captured on stage. 10 foot tall yearbooks ranging from 1955 to 1959 lined the stage, each opening up to change the set through the performance. They captured the halls of Rydell, the Burger Palace, and others allowing the audience to clearly decipher where each scene was taking place. Each actor put their own twist on the characters; Joshua Skurnik and Mimi Scardulla stole the show with their portrayals of Doody and Jan. Becca Andrews’ portrayal of Sandy excluded the Australian accent. This took away the essence of the Sandy that made her so loveable in the film. Zach Trimmer played a great Danny Zuko, mimicking the powerful voice of John Travolta. He left the audience wanting more.

This version of Grease was reminiscent of the movie but it also brought in songs and dances that many of us had never heard before. These songs lightened the mood and added an element of slapstick– “The Mooning Song,” sang by Jan and Roger had the audience laughing. This show was light hearted and fun but I would not recommend for critical theater goers. For reliving a classic movie in the span of a theatre production the show takes a less serious turn and re-imagines many characters, which could be a turn off for some. However for a family night in Matunuck this show captures the essential story of Grease. With many broadway quality voices, this is a show for laughs and fun.

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