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Grease is technically impressive, but its message is not

Danny Zuko (Daubney) and the boys at Grease / R. Colameco
Danny Zuko (Daubney) and the boys at Grease / R. Colameco

Malvern Theatre Society shines in a play about conformism.

After a week burdened by three snow days and a two-hour delay, the Malvern Theater Society still managed to put on a great, but flawed, sold out performance of Grease. The play had several moments worthy of praise, but its overall message seemed just as troublesome now as it may have been to some in the 1970s.

Grease’s plotline follows a young girl named Sandy Dumbrowski, who enrolls at Rydell High after her father is relocated. Upon her arrival, she is reintroduced to her summer love, Danny Zuko. Sandy is immediately discouraged to find Danny is not whom he appeared to be back in those summer days.

As the play continues, Sandy realizes that her current personality is one unworthy of love at Rydell High. Like most adolescents of today, she decides to ultimately succumb to peer pressure and change her attitude, look, and demeanor to fit that of a girl Danny would actually like.

Grease sends a conflicting message, especially for high school students today. At Malvern, we are taught to accept people for whom they are, yet Grease revealed the all-too-familiar reality that we change our outward personalities to fit in with those around us. In this sense, Grease failed to convey the right message.

Technically, Grease was possibly the best production I have seen at Malvern to date. To say the set was impressive is an understatement, as it had a variety of colors, lights, and props. The stage itself was designed to resemble a record, and the backdrop was a jukebox, containing the fabulous band normally buried in the pit.

In addition to the set, several performances in Grease were wonderful. Comically, the show’s true star was Villa Maria Academy’s Liz McKenzie as Jan. Her lines consistently received a flood of laughter, while others did not see the same overwhelming approval.

In terms of music, the solos were all fantastic, especially those of Malvern Seniors Phil Daubney and Jack Marchesani. Daubney played the lead, Danny Zuko, while Marchesani brought the comical Roger to life.

A few pink ladies stood out musically as well. Notre Dame sophomore Ally Carbonar shined as Betty Rizzo, holding her own on a stage filled with greasy teenaged boys. In addition, the rendition of “Freddy, My Love” by Kelly Mulhern of Villa made quite the impression.

The complete ensemble, though at times disconnected, gave it their all throughout the play. By learning difficult dance moves in a mere three months, MTS again proved they are a force to be reckoned with.

Although it is clear MTS had no intention of promoting conformity, it is difficult to not dwell on those thoughts immediately after the show. Sure, MTS may have felt they needed a lighter play to follow up The Laramie Project; however, Grease’s message still remains troubling. Those who saw the show hopefully understood this and enjoyed Grease for its fun dance numbers and comical dialogue, rather than its underlying message.

About Kieran Sweeney

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