by Lorie Lewis Ham
Grease, presented by the River City Theatre Company, opened at the Reedley Opera House this past weekend to a packed house, and from what I’m hearing the shows are selling out quickly–having been there opening night, I’m not surprised.
If you are not familiar with the musical Grease, or the movie version starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, it takes place in the 50s at a high school. Sandy meets Danny at the beach over the summer and they fall in love—to both of their surprise they find themselves at the same high school in the fall and problems ensue because Danny doesn’t want his friends to see the “non cool” side of his personality that Sandy fell in love with. The main characters besides the pair are the Greasers (Danny and his friends) and the Pink Ladies. This show is filled with fun 50s style music and teen problems that really haven’t changed all that much in the decades since—especially peer pressure and trying to fit in.
If you love the movie you will be especially thrilled with the casting as Danny, played by Erik Valencia, and Sandy, played by Hannah Walters look almost exactly like John and Olivia. Everyone in this show did an awesome job, including the ensemble and crew, bringing to life the 50s right down to the costumes and the hair. D.J. Reimer (as Eugene Florczyk the nerd), Jeff Lusk (as Greaser Roger) and River City newcomer Laramie Woolsey (as Pink Lady member Jan) were so funny they kept the audience laughing. Courtney Cowin’s (as Pink Lady Rizzo) song “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and Jamie Briceno in his song as Teen Angel were beautiful—their voices blew me away. And of course there’s the well known favorites “Summer Nights” and “We Go Together”.
Another personal favorite song was the Greaser’s song “Greased Lightening” featuring Michael Angel (as Kenickie). The guys looked and sounded great! Another special touch with this show is an outstanding live band.
The movie Grease was one of the first musical’s Erik ever saw and quickly became a favorite. “Since I started performing, it was always my hope that I would one day have the opportunity to perform in Grease. When I heard RCTC was doing Grease, I knew I was going to audition.”
While Erik has had several lead roles with RCTC, he stated that Danny has been one of his funnest. “Danny has the luxury of being funny while still maintaining a ‘cool’ status as the lead Greaser. The role has given me the opportunity to take a character that many people are familiar with and making it my own. I joke about channeling my inner Danny Zuko before each show, but it really has been fun finding the right kind of swagger within myself to make the role work.”
And it definitely has worked. If you feel like stepping back into the 50s, enjoying some great music and a fun show, don’t miss out on your chance to see Grease at the Reedley Opera House. Tickets are selling out fast so you had better hurry! Not only do you get a great show, but you get the chance to support local theatre.
To make reservations call the Opera House Box Office at 638-6500. You can also learn more about this and upcoming shows on River City’s KRL event page.
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