Fulton Theatre, PA

Grease is Slick

Fulton opener has all the right moves
“Even if you were born after 1959, even if your musical idols are Pink and 50 Cent, even if your idea of an antique car is a 1967 Barracuda (yup, my first), you’ll want to shoo-wop and rama-lama-ding-dong over to Fulton Opera House to catch its season-opening production of Grease. Should you go because it’s great art? No way. Because it’s poignant and meaningful? What are you, a party pooper? No, go because it’s flat-out fun. As the teens on Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand’ would have said: It’s got a beat, and you can dance to it.

OK, not literally. You’ll be in a seat, toe-tapping, knee-bobbing, shoulder-swaying, wishing you could be onstage with the rocking rebels of Rydell High. Even the nerds here are cool.”

“The 1971 musical classic from Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey is a simple story of clique-crossed lovers: He’s a bad boy; she’s a good girl. Grease comes fully loaded with memorable numbers like “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Summer Nights” and “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”

“But director Gary John La Rosa doesn’t let lesser numbers like “Alone at a Drive-In Movie” get away from him either. He’s squeezing 110 percent out of his young cast, and they seem to be loving every minute of it. And as good as his directing is, La Rosa’s choreography is even better. Enthusiasm, energy and excellence: it’s the E-team, aided and abetted by set designer Robert Klingelhoefer, who takes us back to those yellow cinder block halls of high school; costume designer Beth Dunkelberger, who revives the ’50s sweater-over-the-shoulders look; and musical director Ron Barnett, who leads a five-piece combo seated on the second level, center stage.

Lest this lunatic moment be forgot, credit must be given to supporting player Alex Back, who as “Rump” takes the audience over the moon. And like-wows to Jerome Collins, who almost steals the show with a single souped-up song, ‘Beauty School Dropout.’

Turns out none of us ever really leave high school. Only now, our yearbook pictures look good.”

Marty Crisp – Sunday News

Fulton’s Grease is Right-On at Rydell

Show stays true to roots, reclaims its edge
“Grease isn’t for the kids, but it’s worth getting a sitter. Opening night of the slice-of-1950s-high-school-life musical at the Fulton was slicker and snappier than its Hollywood version — and the performance redeemed a stage show that seemed to offer little more in all its recycled versions than bubble gum and poodle skirts set in the rock ’n’ roll era. In an apparently rare theatrical move, Fulton director Gary John La Rosa stayed as true to Rydell High as the kids who comprise its student body. And it was worth it.”

”The Fulton’s cast is strong and fills the stage dancing the real steps to ’50s classics like the hand jive, the madison and the stroll. Their singing voices are even stronger, with not a dud in the bunch and in fact, I thought they might crack the cherubs right off the balconies.”

”The Fulton’s artistic company always seems to get it right, and they did it again this time. It was a rare treat to see musical director Ron Barnett and his band on stage for much of the performance, hitting every note right on. Robert Klingelhoefer’s showy, quick-change sets were chrome and bright red to evoke “Greased Lightnin’,” and cleverly framed with a series of real 1950s yearbook photos. La Rosa aimed to keep the costumes true to the ’50s, and Beth Dunkelberger nicely managed without resorting to poodle skirts.”

Susan E. Lindt – Intelligencer Journal

Grease is Nostalgia Machine in Top Gear

“Life at Rydell High in 1959 is pretty cool. No actual classes to worry about, no parents anywhere in sight, and the students spend most of their days hanging out and singing about cars, girls, and Sandra Dee. Grease, which opened at the Fulton Thursday night, is a celebration of those innocent days when rock and roll was new and teens weren’t all that innocent.”

“Written in the early 1970s, Grease is a loving but edgy tribute to the 1950s. In liberating the era from its innocence, the show is both refreshing and crass, sweet and a bit sour. But it’s never mean spirited and never deeper than a coat of bright red lipstick. But Grease has plenty of charm and humor and this production, directed by Gary John La Rosa, is fun.”

“Every teen cliché you can possibly imagine is incorporated into the show and the ensemble is strong, offering good comic timing, excellent voices and solid dancing.”

“Overall, Grease is a fun ride back in time.”

Jane Holahan – Lancaster New Era

Montclair Musical Theatre, NJ

Greased Lightnin' Strikes at MOC

“…and audiences young and old are in for a fun-filled treat.”

“…Director Gary John La Rosa has whipped his large ensemble into splendid shape, infusing the show with welcome pace and utilizing the limited stage facilities to maximum advantage.”

“Once again the MOC does its historic tradition proud with an outstanding production.”

Naomi Siegel – Verona Times

Grease is the Word…

“They are rockin' and rollin' on the stage of the Mount Hebron theatre as MOC closes out its 75th season with a rousing rendition of Grease.”

“…Gary John La Rosa, who directed MOC's last three productions, has assembled a cast stellar in both talent and looks, instantly believable as teenagers of the period. …Their rendition of 'Greased Lightnin', complete with red convertible, brought down the house.”

“…the production is a knock-out!”

Ruth Ross – Essex Journal

© 2024 Gary John La Rosa