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Phoenix Festival Theater Grease

By • Sep 12th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Grease
Phoenix Festival Theater
Chesapeake Theater-Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD
Through September 16th
2:10 with intermission
$20/$10 Youth, HCC Student
Reviewed September 7th, 2012

Summer is coming to an end, school has just begun, and the local community theaters are wrapping up their seasons. Phoenix Festival Theatre has decided to conclude their summer with one of the most popular and produced shows around.

We all know the story of Grease with the rowdy Burger Palace Boys, the not-as-tough-as-they- seem Pink Ladies, and the star-crossed lovers: Sandy Dumbrowski (Kyleigh Daiker) and Danny Zuko (Shane Lowery). This production, directed by Lauren Spencer-Harris, musically directed by Cedric Lyles, and beautifully and innovatively choreographed Bambi Johnson, features a cast of almost 40 local performers, mostly consisting of local teenagers. It is very clear to see that the cast is very passionate and energetic and clearly had a ball on stage.

Lowery delivers a very strong Zuko with his triple-threat talent, beautiful vocals, passionate characterization, and smoothly executed dance numbers. The rest of the Burger Palace Boys — Doody (Brady Fritz), Roger (Thomas P. Gardner), and Kenickie (Tyler Fritz) — do quite well, especially Tyler Fritz, whose Kenickie was an absolute home run: a strong, tough but loveable character and a stellar performer.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Daiker. Despite great effort and strong focus, Daiker fails to interpret Sandy’s fragile but determined character. She also struggled vocally through most of the show with major pitch problems and tempo issues. Rounding out the “Pink Ladies” are Jan (Bevin Hensly), Marty (Jennifer Lutz), Betty Rizzo (Jilian Victoria), and Frenchy (Nina Cicero), who all individually bring something special to their respective roles. Lutz’s Marty is classy and sassy simultaneously. Hensly’s Jan is hysterical and sweet. Her and Gardner’s rendition of “Mooning” is one of the highlights of the show. Cicero’s Frenchy is sweet and contained; she underplays most of the comic moments which comes out honest. Victoria is by far the strongest vocal performer of the show and, through her Rizzo, painted a vivid picture of her character; her chemistry with Fritz was quite connected. Victoria delivered most of her dialogue excessively and unnecessarily loud and, sometimes, her facial expressions and physical reactions were a bit over-the-top, nonetheless, all that was forgotten and forgiven during her execution of “There Are Worse Things I Can Do.”

On the night that I attended the performance, the show was sold-out. The audience consisted of children and adults of all ages; the audience truly had a blast. Though some of the staging and song lyrics are a bit risqué and inappropriate for the younger ones, Harris stayed true to the heart of the show. And though I question some of her artistic decisions (ie: handheld microphones and especially the staging of “Alone at a Drive-in Movie”), it is just an opinion and a personal choice. The show was fun and worth seeing. So when attending the show, just remember, it is Grease, so you get what you paid for.

Photo Gallery

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Photos provided by Phoenix Festival Theater

Cast

  • Miss Lynch: Carrie Dill
  • Patty Simcox: Laura Ebsworth
  • Eugene Florczyk: Adam Nelson
  • Jan: Bevin Hensley
  • Marty: Jennifer Lutz
  • Betty Rizzo: Jillian Victoria
  • Doody: Brady Fritz
  • Roger: Thomas P. Gardner
  • Kenickie: Tyler Fritz
  • Sonny Latierri: Benjamin Paul
  • Frenchy: Nina Cicero
  • Sandy Dumbrowski: Kyleigh Daiker
  • Danny Zuko: Shane Lowery
  • Vince Fontaine: Bill Fritz
  • Johnny Casino: Bill Fritz
  • Cha-Cha DiGregorio: Leslie Perry
  • Teen Angel: Doug Kotula

Company

  • Mackenzie Brockmeyer
  • Tiffany Flaharty
  • Tabby Golumbek
  • Karly Horn
  • Erin Huffer
  • Breanna Hurley
  • Campbell Kistner
  • Megan Koncurat
  • Dominic LaFrancesca
  • Emily LaHatte
  • Maggie LaHatte
  • Lexi Magee
  • Codey Odachowski
  • Steven Prichard
  • Brianna Smith
  • Allison Stokes
  • Monique Watson
  • Madison Weinberg
  • Tamera Whaley
  • Rebecca Wiseman

Orchestra

  • Conductor, Piano: Cedric Lyles
  • Reeds: Christopher Reardon
  • Bass: Daryl Stoltzfus
  • Guitar: Soren Mattson
  • Drums: Matthew Lampart

Production Team

  • Company Manager/Producer: Larry Hensley
  • Director: Lauren Spencer-Harris
  • Musical Director: Cedric Lyles
  • Choreographer: Bambi Johnson
  • Technical Director: Jeff Kanyuck
  • Stage Manager: Katie Manning
  • Set Designer: Dawn Klein
  • Costume Designer: Stella DiPeso
  • Props Manager: Chris Rose
  • Lighting Designer: Kerry Brandon
  • Spotlight Operator: Charis Bartenslager, Kekkiegh Pangratz, Kayla Whisman
  • Light Board Operator: Josh Fieldhouse, Trevor Winter
  • Sound Board Operator: Alex Paul
  • Scenic Artist: Holly Klink
  • Construction Crew: Charis Bartenslager, Amber Carey, Josh Fieldhouse, Bevin Hensley, Kristin Hessenauer, Kelleigh Pangratz, Alex Paul, Kayla Whisman, Trevor Winter

Disclaimer: Phoenix Festival Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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worked for twenty years as a professional actor and director, as well as worked a myriad of other theatrical production roles at various levels. In recent years, he served as Artistic Director/President of STROyKA Theatre in Washington, DC. Roman privately teaches acting, voice, and piano and serves as a consultant to various groups and schools. His primary role is stay-at-home dad and full-time college student. He also directs the Voices Unlimited Youth Choir at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD.

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