Grease at Derby Dinner Playhouse

By Michael W. Stout

If you are a product of the 1950s, or just a fan of the classic Rock ‘N' Roll era, then Derby Dinner Playhouse's first-ever production of Grease is a must-see for you. This classic musical, which celebrates high school, greased hair, teenage love, fast cars, drive-in movies and a little thing called Rock 'N' Roll music will have you dancing in your seat, "doing the hand-jive, baby." This refreshing stage production further proves that America's love affair with Sandy, Danny, Rizzo, Kenickie and the gang at Rydell High continues.

A staple on and off Broadway for decades now, Grease gained a cult following when Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and Stockard Channing brought Sandy, Danny and Rizzo to life on the big screen in 1978. Fans of the movie rendition of Grease must be warned that although similar, the stage production of this fun tale is a trimmed-down version, but it includes a few surprise scenes. Never fear, though, as there is plenty of toe-tapping music: "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightning," "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," "Beauty School Dropout," "Rock ‘N' Roll Party Queen" and "We Go Together" for fans of all ages.

North Carolina native Sybil Ann Haggard landed her dream role as the reserved, Australian lead character of Sandy in her debut at Derby Dinner Playhouse, but unfortunately her portrayal was merely adequate, as the magic was just not there. On a similar note, Rick Cornette's portrayal of the tough guy lead of Danny Zuko was nearly as equally disappointing as he struggled through his musical numbers at times. Fortunately, this production of Grease was saved and actually excelled thanks to the sassy, brassy, gum-chomping Rizzo, the greasy-haired, troublemaking Kenickie and the sexy and sultry Marty, played by Derby Dinner regulars Sandra Simpson, her husband Timm Charlton, and Heather Folsom-McGuire. Timm's star shone bright in his musical number of "Greased Lightning," while Corwyn Hodge brought the house down with his rendition of the teen angel's "Beauty School Dropout." Sybil finally turned in a memorable performance along with Sandra's incredible display of talent in the most poignant scene of this entire production, as Rizzo attests "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" and Sandy pleas with Rizzo to "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," reason enough alone to see this production.

Let the good times roll and head to Derby Dinner Playhouse in Clarksville, Indiana to see Grease through June 25. Following the show, you'll want to dig out your bobby-socks, poodle skirts, blue jeans, and hair tonic as "We Go Together" will be playing in your head for days. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call (812) 288-8281, or log on to www.derbydinner.com.