PMT Makes “Grease” Great Again

imageWe all know Grease. Whether we’ve seen the musical a million times, caught it at a drive-in back in the 80’s, or have been subjected to the latest version starring Julianne Hough, (snooze) most people get Grease.

That said, not all theatre companies can pull it off.

Why not? Because Grease is all about magnificent chemistry, crude jokes, big wigs and even bigger musical numbers.

And luckily for Pittsburgh, that is just what Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s (PMT) version offers.

Lara Hayhurst stars as “Sandy,” and what is great about her portrayal is that Sandy has so much heart. Ms. Hayhurst’s Sandy is a Sandy we can root for. She is strong, and pretty, and ok, ok maybe she is a little drippy, but there is so much more to her than the Sandy we see time and time again. Not only does Lara have an incredible voice, but Sandy’s character comes out with every note in the most endearing way.

Speaking of endearing, Ricky Gee is adorable in the role of Danny. A beautiful singer Ricky seamlessly goes back and forth from tough guy to lover, although he was most believable in his love scenes.

Not to take away from Mr. Gee’s performance, but I thought Kinickie played by Kevin Daniel O’Leary was wonderful and would have made for a more powerful Danny.

Larissa Overholt played a studied Rizzo, Marty stole the show with a saucy version of “Freddy My Love”, and even Twinkie-loving Jan stole my heart with her pink dress and amazing “It’s Raining on Prom Night.”

And if you haven’t heard of those two songs….it’s because they aren’t typical featured in the film versions, but luckily PMT showcases them onstage at The Byham.

“Grease Lightening” and the dance scenes with Cha-Cha hit high notes and Frenchie’s big number “Beauty School Dropout” dazzled the audience with their sparkling capes and tin-foil headpieces.

I do have to say, my favorite character in the whole show was Patty Simcox who was equally sweet as she was overzealous. Played by Katie Marie Jones, Patty shined way beyond her film counterparts.

I hope in an alternate universe or fan-fiction somewhere she winds up with Danny, and somehow Nathan Sudie’s dweeby but sweet Eugene makes it with Cha-Cha.

Overall the show was full of perfectly paired couples, beautiful costumes, and very talented performers. The show made even this cynical writer find a way to love Grease again, and to take pride in the musical theatre that comes from PMT.

Now…it’s off to find a milkshake and a jukebox. Good thing Ritter’s is open. And hey who knows, maybe I’ll run into a few folks from the famous Rydell High.