New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


BIG NEWS! Here's the latest Issue of NJ Stage Magazine -- Click here

"Grease" At Paper Mill Is The Perfect Kick Off To The Summer!

By Gary Wien


(MILLBURN, NJ) -- There's just something about "Grease" that makes it one of the quintessential musicals of all-time. The story includes the universal high school concepts of fitting in and self-identity, falling in and out of love, and the play contains wonderful characters and the 1950s vibe, but, in the end, it's all about the music. The songs have the uncanny ability to be silly and sincere at the same time, and you'll undoubtedly find yourself singing along. As the production at Paper Mill Playhouse proves "Grease" is still very much the word. It's nearly impossible not to smile during this performance. The show is too much fun.

It's hard to think about "Grease" without remembering the film that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, so it's rather appropriate that the play begins with a grainy film showing the young lovers (Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko) on the beach during the summer. Summer then ends, the video stops, curtains rise, and we're instantly transported to Rydell High School where we meet the students — everybody from the Pink Ladies to the T-Birds, the geeks, and the student council members — as the theme song "Grease" is performed on the first day of school.

During lunch, the Pink Ladies are introduced to Sandy, a new student at the school. Sandy's innocence is in stark contrast to the rough and rebellious Betty Rizzo. The group eventually gets Sandy to tell the story of the boy she met at the beach this past summer, and he sounds like someone they know. Sure enough, the two lovebirds are reunited, although in front of his friends Danny pretends to be aloof rather than in love. And so begins our tale of star-crossed lovers.


While the movie focuses much more on the relationship between Sandy and Danny, the play paints a broader picture of the entire group of friends and their trials and tribulations as teenagers. Virtually every character gets his or her moment in the spotlight from Doody strumming his guitar in the locker room and performing "Those Magic Changes" to Marty in her bedroom with "Freddy, My Love" and even Roger and Jan enter the fray with "Mooning". The last two being numbers which were left out of the film version.

I've always been a fan of "Grease" and Paper Mill's production is spectacular! If you've only seen the film, you need to head to Millburn and see it in the theatre. Seeing it on stage adds an almost surreal feeling to the story; Minimalistic sets change throughout the play while a live band blasts out the numbers. The minimalism even adds to the nostalgic factor as it sort of emulates the way memories are kind of fuzzy, often leaving some details out. And there's something utterly fantastic about seeing the "Beauty School Dropout" number performed live as if it really was a strange dream.

The entire play is full of classic songs, performed perfectly. From "Summer Nights", which helps establish the characters from the innocent to the wicked to "Greased Lightning" which bursts with as much electricity as you'll ever see on stage, and "Hopelessly Devoted To You" which leads tears to fall throughout the crowd. "Grease" has show stopping number after number after number until it reaches a crescendo with "You're The One That I Want" and Paper Mill's cast nails every tune!

The play stars Taylor Louderman (Sandy Dumbrowski) alongside Bobby Conte Thornton (Danny Zuko). Even though the play has a larger universe than just these two, the roles are paramount to the success of the production and the spotlight loves both of them. In fact, Taylor has a star-in-the-making performance.

Morgan Weed is a scene stealer as Betty Rizzo - portraying her as the original 'mean girl'. She slithers around the stage like a serpent in a Disney cartoon, but waters down the venom a bit during "There Are Worse Things I Could Do", proving she can be vulnerable as well.

Robin DeJesus (Doody) and Telly Leung (Teen Angel) showcase amazing voices on numbers like "Those Magic Changes" and "Beauty School Dropout".

Rounding out the cast is Tommy Bracco (Sonny LaTierri), Matt Wood (Roger), Shane Donovan (Kenickie), Leela Rothenberg (Jan), Tess Soltau (Marty), Dana Steingold (Frenchy), Donna English (Miss Lynch), Eloise Kropp (Patty Simcox), Sean Patrick Doyle (Eugene Florczyk), Joey Sorge (Vince Fontaine), Brad Simmons (Johnny Casino), and Gillian Munsayac, Kat Nejat, and Kevin Santos as students.

The play, which contains book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, is beautifully directed by Daniel Goldstein with choreography by Joann M. Hunter. Highly recommended!

"Grease" runs now through June 29, 2014 at the Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) in Millburn, NJ. For more information visit http://www.papermill.org.

PHOTO CREDITS
PHOTO 1: Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Matthew Murphy; From left to right: Shane Donovan (Kenickie), Morgan Weed (Betty Rizzo), Taylor Louderman (Sandy Dumbrowski) and Bobby Conte Thornton (Danny Zuko).
PHOTO 2: Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia; From left to right: Matt Wood (Roger), Bobby Conte Thornton (Danny Zuko) and Taylor Louderman.
PHOTO 3: Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia; From left to right: Taylor Louderman (Sandy Dumbrowski), Tess Soltau (Marty), Dana Steingold (Frenchy), Telly Leung (Teen Angel), Morgan Weed (Betty Rizzo) and Leela Rothenberg (Jan).
PHOTO 4: Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse; Photo by Jerry Dalia; Shane Donovan (Kenickie) and the boys of Grease.




For more by this author, click here






Circle Players Presents "After The Revolution"
(PISCATAWAY, NJ) -- Circle Players presents After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, weekends from February 1st to February 17th. The production is directed by Alicia Harabin. In the play, Emma Joseph is a bright, hard-working, law school graduate continuing her family’s business of fighting for progressive ideals. 
Black Box PAC Presents "Significant Other"
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Black Box PAC's first main stage show of 2019 is Significant Other by Joshua Harmon. BBPAC is no stranger to Harmon’s work, as one of the first hits at the Black Box Performing Arts Center was Harmon’s hit Bad Jews. Significant Other follows the perpetually single Jordan Berman and his trio of girl friends as they navigate dating, relationships, and supporting those you love. Performances run from January 24 to February 10th.
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- Which play will be voted Audience Favorite – the romance, the thriller, or the comedy?  And which author will take the $500 Judge’s Award?
Dreamcatcher Presents World Premiere of "Psychodrama"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre will present the World Premiere of Psychodrama by Montclair playwright Phoebe Farber. This seriocomedy unfolds in a divorce support group where a new leader introduces unorthodox methods that just might work. Psychodrama runs February 14-March 3.
Centenary Stage Presents Henrik Ibsen's "Enemy Of The People"
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso headline Centenary Stage Company’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, February 15 through March 3 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, New Jersey. Adapted by John Alan Wyatt and directed by Anne Occhiogrosso, the production will feature Randall Duk Kim as Doctor Thomas Stockmann supported by an acting company of professional and local talent from the tri-state area and Centenary University. The full-scale production marks the culmination of the 2018 Gates Ferry Lecture Series: “What is Truth?”


Emmy-Winning South Oranger, Andre Braugher
​​​​​​​“I’m Andre Braugher and I’m here at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, SOPAC, rehearsing a new play by Julia Doolittle called ‘Tell Them I’m Still Young.’”
Laiona Michelle Talks About "Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical"
This might be the right time for Nina Simone—15 years after her death. That’s what Laiona Michelle thinks, and, in a way, Michelle will be testing that idea by bringing the singer-activist to life in a world-premiere musical show at George Street Playhouse. Michelle wrote the show—“Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical”—and she will appear in the title role at the New Brunswick theater from January 29 through February 24.
It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 






Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch






















New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.