Creative Spin on GREASE at HP&P

by Ed Corsi

The cast of HP&P's GREASE: Front Row: Joe Sabatino (Danny), Michelle Cabot (Sandy); Second Row: Bob Kier (Roger), Mark Evans (Doody), Ian Taylor (Sonny); Back Row: Jennie Knackstedt (Rizzo), Jenn Kopesky (Jan), Jessica Laynor (Frenchie), Kathleen Echols (Marty). This crowd-pleasing production closes this weekend!

Haddonfield Plays and Players’ summer production has always held a special place in the community’s heart. After all, this group has been providing quality theatre since 1934 and has had stars like Michael Landon and Judith Light grace their stage.

This year, they present the popular story of The Pink Ladies and The Burger Palace Boys….better known as GREASE.

The production team at HP&P put a creative spin on this production. The show opens with a 20 minute pre-show full of music from the 50’s-70’s. There are actors and actresses dressed in 70’s garb dancing behind the vocalist. Upon the arrival of Miss Lynch, played by the wonderful Susan Filtrante, we learn that we are part of the 25 year reunion celebrating the Rydell High class of 1959. As Danny and Sandy and the gang make their entrance, we start the string of well-known, catchy tunes like “Summer Nights”, “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee” and “We Go Together”.

This cast is full of talented young actors and actresses who give the show the energy it deserves and kept the audience entertained. Jennie Knackstedt as Rizzo and Jessica Laynor as Frenchy gave standout performances. Jennie is a vocal powerhouse who played the tough but vulnerable Rizzo with exactly the right amount of emotion the role calls for. Jessica gave off a professional vibe every time she stepped onto the stage creating an unforgettable Frenchy. The rest of the Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys were all very good and were supported by a talented ensemble.

Although Director Ed Doyle put his own spin on the show, the original concept was kept intact and the fun atmosphere was always displayed. The production team chose to go with tracks instead of a live band, which is a decision I did not care for. The energy of the live band was missing and the music was not quite loud enough but the actors did a nice job of blending well with the music most of the time.

There was also quite a bit of improvisation throughout the entire show and I felt like it was a little too much at times drawing attention away from the show itself.

The dances, choreographed by Dianne Certo, were perfect and really were spaced nicely on Haddonfield’s unique stage. The scene at the high school hop was probably the most enjoyable one of the night.

Even with any shortcomings that were noticed, GREASE is still a fun night at the theatre and the audience really enjoyed this version very much. You can still catch performances through Saturday, August 7th. If you’re looking to have a great time and sing along to all of your favorites songs made famous by the popular movie, you will have a blast at Haddonfield Plays and Players’ production of GREASE.

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jim Jacobs
and Warren Casey
Directed by Ed Doyle
July 15 – August 7, 2010
Haddonfield Plays and Players
957 East Atlantic Avenue
Haddonefield, NJ

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