Sunday, June 16, 2019

It's back to the '50s with 'Grease' from Broadway By the Bay

Sandy Dumbrowski (Kylie Abucay, center) meets the Pink Ladies at lunch.
It’s back to high school in 1959 as Broadway By the Bay presents “Grease,” the long-running Broadway musical that has become a staple for nonprofessional companies like BBB.

The plot is thin. Sweet Sandy Dumbrowski (Kylie Abucay), a newcomer to Rydell High, tries to fit in with the more worldly Pink Ladies by telling them about her summer romance.

In the meantime, the bad-guy Burger Palace Boys are regaled by Danny Zuko’s (Alex Alvarez) stories of scoring in his summer romance.

Therefore, Sandy and Danny are surprised to learn they’re now classmates, but he pretends not to care about her. He’s too busy trying to impress his buddies.

Eventually they get back together after Sandy’s transformation with a new hairstyle, outfit and makeup.

BBB artistic director Alicia Jeffrey helms this energetic but not entirely satisfactory production. The main problem is that most performers are trying too hard. This is especially true of Danny’s crude, too loud buddies.

The Pink Ladies, led by the tough Betty Rizzo (Chelsey Ristaino), seem more comfortable in their roles.

Another notable Pink Lady is Frenchy (Kate Byrd), who drops out to attend beauty school only to flunk out there. Thanks to the Teen Angel (Daniel Lloyd Pias), who sings “Beauty School Dropout” with a fine falsetto, she decides to return to Rydell.

Then there are the good kids, who dress neatly, get good grades, take part in activities and avoid trouble. Chief among them are valedictorian Eugene Florczyk (the inimitable David Blackburn) and cheerleader Patty Simcox (Jessica Sarah Bennett).

Trying to keep everyone in line is English teacher Miss Lynch (Kathryn Han), who seems like a good sport.

The book, music and lyrics by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs evoke the ’50s rock ’n’ roll, pre-Beatles era. Led by music directors Jon Gallo and Nick Perez, with vocal direction by Pias, the orchestra, choral and solo singing all are good.

Dancing is a big part of the fun.
Choreography by Allison Paraiso and Zoë Swenson-Graham is lively and entertaining.

The set is by Kelly James Tighe with lighting by Marcia Madeira, costumes by Merissa Mann and sound by Jon Hayward.

While the show might evoke nostalgia among some viewers, this production sometimes feels like a dated parody.

Running about two hours with one intermission, “Grease” will continue through June 23 at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City.

For tickets and information, call (650) 579-5565 or visit

Photos by Mark and Tracy Photography