Fun `Grease' at Wilde Lake

Cast and songs make production of musical depicting high school in the 1950s a delight

Review

March 24, 2006|By ALBORZ GHANDEHARI | ALBORZ GHANDEHARI,CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL

Think back to the 1950s, with its teenage craze of poodle skirts, leather jackets, and poofy hairdos; all the while the nation is swept up in a rock `n' roll pop-culture frenzy.

Think of this and envision the scene last weekend at Columbia's Jim Rouse Theatre, where the Wilde Lake High School drama department presented Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey's musical Grease, a 1950s rock `n' roll sock-hop smash.

Grease begins with Danny Zuko, a student at Rydell High School who leads a greaser clique, the members of which call themselves the Burger Palace Boys. He tells them about a girl he met during the summer only to find that the girl, demure and conservative Sandy Dumbrowski, has transferred to Rydell.

Rejected by Danny for fear of tarnishing his image at school, Sandy tries desperately to win him back with the help of a group of popular girls called the Pink Ladies.

Wilde Lake's production was brought to life by the memorable songs, and the ensemble projected a unified sound that made the highly charged company numbers a delight.

Songs such as "Summer Nights," the Burger Palace Boys' "Greased Lightning" and the show's poster number, "We Go Together," ignited the theater.

The lit-up faces, the synchronized dancing and the voices made for a strong ensemble performance.

Noteworthy solo performances included those of Sara Trapnell and Chris DeCaro, who had the right amount of chemistry as high school sweethearts Danny and Sandy. Mary Lee Adams was a revelation as Rizzo, leading lady of the Pink Ladies.

Whether it was her incessant gum-chewing, her guttural speaking voice or her fast-paced strut, Adams' choices never faltered, infusing the character with a convincing attitude as well as a more vulnerable dimension in the show's later scenes.

Though some performances left a little to be desired, the cast as a whole was exceptional.

The technical components were of the professional quality characteristic of Wilde Lake productions.

The costumes were vivid and bright, leather jackets and poodle skirts being only the tip of the iceberg. The set was eye-catching with high-reaching black platforms and steps that added levels and dimension to the space.

The pit band never hit an off note as it played the rock `n' roll with dynamic, head-bobbing rhythm.

Senior Kristen Torgrimson managed the stage crew, which avoided lengthy scene changes that are oftentimes the downfall of a production such as Grease, which has so many.

Last but not least, the sound was immaculate, a technical beacon of a strong production.

Despite its less-than-inspiring message of "Change yourself and you'll get the guy and become the most popular girl in school," Grease was fun.

The Wilde Lake performers got wonderfully into the timeless upbeat music, making for a night of maximum-energy entertainment.

Alborz Ghandehari, a senior at Centennial, reviewed "Grease" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.

School plays

While some schools have held their spring plays, there is ample opportunity to see some excellent theater productions:

Centennial: Pippin; April 6, 7 (7 p.m.), April 8 (2 p.m., 7 p.m.)

Mount Hebron: Damn Yankees ; March 29-31, April 1 (7 p.m.)

Long Reach: Heisman, the Musical ; April 27-29 (7:30 p.m.)

Marriotts Ridge: Juke Box Time Machine; March 30, 31, April 1 ( 7 p.m.)

Oakland Mills: Seussical the Musical ; March 30, 31, April 1 (7 p.m.)

Reservoir: Damn Yankees ; April 20, 21, 22 (7 p.m.), April 23 (2 p.m.)

River Hill: Guys and Dolls ; March 29-31 (7:30 p.m.) April 1 (2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) April 2 (3 p.m.)

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