The cast of Taylor High School’s Grease dances “The Hand-Jive” - set designed by student, Lena Pitzer and crew.
Review by Eliza Russo, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
Ah, the fifties: rock'n'roll, hand-jives, and poodle skirt-clad teenage girls. Nothing could go wrong at Rydell High School in the class of 1959's senior year. But what happens when the new girl gets mixed up with a greaser boy the summer before? Taylor High School invited the audience to grab their hair gel and find out in their production of Grease.
Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, Grease is the consummate fifties high school experience, complete with greaser boys and girl gangs. The show follows Sandy Dumbrowski (Nicki Grauel), a preppy, naïve girl, as she navigates a new school and an old love affair with greaser Danny Zuko. When Sandy gets involved with the Pink Ladies, an edgy girl gang, she has to decide how far she's willing to go to fit in and stay with Danny amongst teenage drama.
An expressive company truly transformed Taylor High School's production into something magnificent. A combination of unique set designs, bright and youthful costumes, and talented performers kept the show engaging and high-energy throughout, embodying the carefree, timeless tone of the show.
Nicki Grauel exemplified Sandy's naivety with accuracy; her mild-mannered stage presence and beautiful voice fit perfectly with her innocent, preppy character. Lucy Stratton brought maturity and dry sass to Rizzo, the tough and sarcastic leader of the Pink Ladies, and stunned the audience with a rich, emotional performance during "There Are Worse Things I Could Do." The two had remarkable stage chemistry together, making for a realistic rivalry and a heart-wrenching moment as Rizzo refused to break down in front of her.
Blake Wanek performed wonderfully as Roger, the often-teased member of the T-Birds greaser gang. His vocal performance during "Mooning" was phenomenal, with a full, silky-smooth voice and deep emotion contrasting his comedic mooning-related movements. Alongside him, Emma Childs' Jan was quirky and bubbly, the perfect complement to Wanek's eccentric Roger. The ensemble of Grease backed up the leads at every moment with expressive, enthusiastic movements and character choices throughout that showed off the personality of each performer.
The technical elements for this show greatly attributed to the ambiance of Grease. Lena Pitzer's set design brought the show alive by making it into a massive, pop-art jukebox, complete with light-up "buttons" for popular fifties songs. This allowed for unique entrances and exits, including the iconic "Greased Lightning" scene with sliding barn doors that blended perfectly into the main set to reveal Kenickie's new car. Though technical transitions were slowly paced at times, the set itself was meticulously detailed and well-planned. Winston McKinney's costume work was immaculate, with bright costumes that truly brought out the atmosphere of the show itself; during the opening scene, a sea of flouncy circle skirts and saddle shoes immediately identified the setting as a romanticized fifties high school. Despite unavoidable problems with sound during the final act, the show moved cleanly and smoothly, never faltering in the face of technical difficulties. Overall, the technical aspects of this show were incredibly impressive and well-done.
Taylor High School did a fantastic job with Grease, and they genuinely deserve a round of applause for their hard work in showing the audience how to hand-jive with them during this story of teenage love and identity.
Marty (Anna Bucher) describes how she captivates her many boyfriends with only a letter to Frenchy, Jan, and Rizzo (Allie Stevens, Emma Childs, and Lucy Stratton) in “Freddy, My Love,” from Taylor High School’s production of Grease.
Review by Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
Hop in Greased Lighting and buckle up! Taylor High School drove the audience on a fun filled journey back in time with their production of Grease.
The iconic musical Grease was written in 1971, but it is a celebration of the 50s. The story focuses on Sandy Dumbrowski, the new girl at Rydell High School, who struggles with romance and friendship as she tries to acclimate to her new life. She finds out her boyfriend from over the summer, Danny Zuko, attends Rydell, but is upset to find he seems to care more about his cool guy reputation than her. To make matters worse, she is attempting to make friends with a group of girls called the Pink Ladies, but the group's leader, bad girl Rizzo, does not appreciate her innocence and good behavior. Sandy slowly realizes that she needs to make some drastic life changes to fit in and win back Danny.
Taylor's production of Grease was vivacious and full of energy. Bright costumes, lively choreography, the chemistry of the Pink Ladies, and big personality from actors had the audience beaming brightly.
Nicki Grauel's beautiful, bell-like voice was showcased in her role as Sandy. Rizzo, played by Lucy Stratton, showed off her tough girl attitude throughout the show, in character even when she was not the focus onstage, dancing less peppily than the others and constantly crossing her arms and rolling her eyes. Her powerhouse voice carried palpable emotional weight as she belted out the sad and angry number "There are Worse Things I Could Do." She had believable and intense stage chemistry with her love interest Kenickie, played with swagger and energy by Henry Aug.
The ensemble of the Pink Ladies was a cohesive yet varied group. Each of the actresses set themself apart from the others through playing up their unique character traits, yet they gelled together, acting like a believable group of friends and singing seriously in sync harmonies. In addition to Rizzo and Sandy, the Pink Ladies consisted of Marty, Frenchy, and Jan. Anna Bucher's Marty brought fun to the show through her flamboyant, guy-crazy persona. Emma Childs' portrayal of Jan was endearing and energetic. The entire company brought life to this production through the zest they put into every dance move and the smiles on their faces.
Many of the tech elements for this show were a success. Lena Pitzer, Lee Garber-Ford, Macy Ilg, and Alex Feltner created a beautiful set that embodied 50's. The set was built in the shape of a jukebox, representing the 50's as well as tying into radio station voice overs that were a part of the show. Winston McKinney worked to create the visual delight that was the costuming for Grease. All of the costumes fit into the theme of 1950's high school, but they were also all unique, representing what different cliques of students. Student choreographers Riley Kupka and Elayna Bender did a wonderful job with the numbers they choreographed, emphasizing the fun mood of the show with upbeat, carefree dance moves. While there were unavoidable technical issues with light and sound, the technical crews did everything they could to make this show a success.
In summary, Grease at Taylor High School was an enjoyable production full of zeal and excitement. Costumes, choreography, a great ensemble, and larger than life actors made this show a blast. This show made this reviewer want to grease back my hair, put some records on, and get down and boogie!
The Greasers, lead by Kenickie (Henry Aug, center), fantasize how the chick’ll scream when they cruise down the street in “Greased Lightning,” in Taylor High School’s production of Grease.
Review by Alex Bertucci, Campbell County High School Critic Team
Time turned back on Taylor High School's stage for their hilarious and charming performance of Grease. Filled to the brim with sock hops and vinyl records, Taylor High School's production of the ever-popular 50's themed musical truly had it "made in the shade."
Grease is one of the most widely recognized musicals of all time. The show was originally written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, and it was released in 1971. Then, after the wildly successful film adaptation, Grease became something of a phenomenon. Named after the 1950's youth greaser subculture movement, the musical tells a story of love, friendship and other teenage themes through a musical score inspired by early rock and roll. We follow Danny Zuko, the local bad boy greaser, and Sandy Dumbrowski, the new girl, after their summer fling ends and high school begins. Along the way, the memorable characters get into a dance contest, go to the drive in, and sing some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre history.
Taylor High School's production was rooted in its ensemble, creative scenic design, and some great vocalists. The colorful ensemble brought huge numbers such as "Summer Nights" to life with enthusiasm and energy. The giant dance contest "Born to Hand Jive" was another standout group number. Even with a broken soundboard in the final moments of the second act, the entire cast stayed in character and improvised their way out of a difficult situation.
Lead actress Nicki Grauel's performance was strong enough to live up to the expectations that come with a character like Sandy Dumbrowski. Her rendition of "Hopelessly Devoted to You" managed to capture Sandy's struggle to accept her feelings for Zuko.
The supporting cast was full of great performances that really added to the production. Blake Wanek's performance as Roger provided some much-needed comic relief, as well as some incredible vocals. "Mooning" was a standout performance of the night. Both Wanek and Lucy Stratton as Rizzo surprised and won over audience members with their voices.
One of the show's strongest features was its technical elements. For one, there was the fact that the iconic song "Greased Lightning" was completed by a student made convertible that could really move on stage. The set itself was creative and encapsulated the style and aesthetic of the show perfectly. Designed by students Lena Ptizer, Lee Garber-Ford, Macy Ilg and Alex Feltner, the stage resembled a giant juke box. The actors performed with the names of iconic 50s rock tunes behind them and posters of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe above them.
Overall, Taylor High School's Grease delivered an iconic story with enthusiasm and passion through great vocalists and creative set design choices.
Sandy and Danny (Nicki Grauel and Nick Buirley) close down the show with a roaring rendition of “You’re the One that I Want,” in Taylor High School’s production of Grease.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"The technical aspects of the production were outstanding. The costumes, music, and dancing were of course perfectly picked straight from the ‘50s. Anyone, whether they were alive for the ‘50s or not, would've felt like they'd been transported 70 years back. The behind the scenes students this year clearly put in their work for the show and got their reward when their production went smooth with clean scene changes."
-Lucy Grace, Colerain High School Critic Team
"Notably, Rizzo, performed by Lucy Stratton stole the show with her breathtaking vocals in "There are Worse Things I Could Do," along with her commitment to her sassy and tough character that leads the Pink Ladies. Likewise, another member of the Pink Ladies, Jan, played by Emma Childs, was the sweetest addition as she brought many comedic moments to the show."
-Ashley Kelly, Highlands High School Critic Team
"The ensemble of energetic characters, ranging from greasers to teachers and cheerleaders to class leaders; each member of the ensemble was included in many iconic group songs, as well as the lively group choreography. Two members of the ensemble, Elayna Bender and Riley Kupka were also student choreographers, responsible for many group numbers such as 'Grease Lightning,' 'Shakin at the Hop,' 'Freddy My Love,' and the 'Rydell Fight Song.' Adding a level of energy and creativity to Taylor High School's take on iconic Grease songs."
-Anna Pack, Campbell County High School Critic Team
"Hair, makeup, costumes, and crew truly brought the production back into the 1950's, with greased back hair, poodle skirts, black leather jackets, and Rizzo's bold red lipstick. The set of Taylor's production was very impressive particularly the life sized car, which had the ability to roll on and off the stage, and the huge pink jukebox, which remained on the stage as a background for the entire show. "
-Zoe Nienaber, Roger Bacon High School Critic Team
"No production of Grease would be complete without the Pink Ladies. Their number 'Freddy, My Love,' led by the vivacious Anna Bucher as Marty, featured their gorgeous harmonies and sister-like bond. Additionally, as Roger, one member of the talented group of T-Birds, Blake Wanek's <cq> rendition of 'Mooning' was one to remember with his strong vocals and scene-stealing acting."
-Anna Grace Hull, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
"One of the things that tied this show together was the crew. The set crew members, Lena Pitzer, Lee Garber-Ford, Macy Ilg, and Alex Feltner created the set that was beautifully made. The show relied on a giant two leveled structure that was built from scratch for this show. It had a second level for actors to walk (and dance) on, and sliding doors to pull Greased Lightning (Kenickie's car) through. Greased Lightning itself was built out of old car parts by the set crew."
-Rebecca Hartman, Randall K. Cooper High School Critic Team
"Overall, Taylor's production of Grease created such a fun experience using many different elements that worked together in harmony. The cast bond made the friendships in the show seem real and the hard work of the crew brought everything to life."
-Alex Serger, St. Ursula Academy Critic Team