Believe it or not, PTC’s Grease cast may have been an even better fit than the John Travolta and friends most theater patrons will be expecting. Emma Hearn was everything you could hope for in Miss Sandra Dee: beautiful, clear vocals that were just as pure as she is. Pascal Pastrana was much less ladies man and much more unrefined teenage boy, with the semi-timid vocals and floundering flirting to prove it. Michael Schimmele’s Roger made for the ideal comic relief, but he sure didn’t skip on the vocal acrobatics—every line he sang got at least one enthusiastic “woot” from the crowd. The dynamic between his bad boy and Kate Cassidy Ryan as Pink Lady Jan was too heart-melting for words, and a great cushion for the high drama of Danny and Sandy’s roller coaster love story.
My personal favorite, though? Alex Kidder, who was the whole Rizzo package. Too cool to stand any way but a slouch, too sarcastic to avoid any comedic moment and definitely too good to cry in front of Sandy. The attitude came through even when she was on the skirts of the scene—that’s what I call great acting.
PTC’s Grease was the perfect capsule of high school drama, viewed through that comedic lens that only awkward, too-involved teenagers can provide. The titillated giggles and flirty taunts had the audience in stitches all night. Pair the made-for-this cast and their comedic timing with a killer set (well, other than the strange film strips that served as transitions. I found those a bit distracting) and you have yourself a winning show, the perfect note to end the 2018–2019 season.
And more than that, PTC’s board used this opening night as an opportunity to introduce the theater’s new managing director, Christopher Massimine, who will be taking over in July. Hailing from New York’s National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, the Tony nominee shared can’t wait to get started in continuing Pioneer Theater’s legacy of linking education and communication through theater.
Don’t miss this perfect blend of the classic musical (you’ll see some familiar choreography) and a new, unexpected moves that bring you right back to those fateful high school days. Grease is even more of a coming of age story at PTC that you are ready for. Grease runs through May 25 at the Pioneer Memorial Theater. Tickets and info here.
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