On Friday evening, Arnold Hall was the place to be as the Performance Ensemble delivered their second installment of a series of stage readings geared at showcasing musicals that people would otherwise not likely be exposed to: popular as well as rarely heard ones. The well-known and loved musical “Grease” was chosen to commemorate the 35th year since its original release. The first installment, “Titanic,” took place in Fall 2012 and represented a musical seldom heard.
Directed by Kevin Wallace, the comical reenactment found the characters dancing, singing and ultimately putting their improvising skills to the test. They engaged and thrilled the audience with not only their acting skills but also their magnificent voices and were accompanied by a fantastic live band. There were few if any persons who remained still in their seats throughout.
Undoubtedly, everyone was fully engaged throughout and never missed an opportunity to show their appreciation with loud rounds of applause and cheers at the end of segments. Showstoppers included Timothy Miller’s rendition of Beauty School Drop-Out and the well-executed dance numbers such as Hand Jive and Grease Lightening. The finale had everyone ushered to their feet and participate in the mega-mix-sing-along while the cast meandered through the audience and continued to exude their charm.
“We concentrate on the work itself — script and score with minimal rehearsal and budget but maximum talent,” said Wallace, who was quite pleased with the show that was entirely put on stage in only 30 hours. He also noted that the little glitches in trying to get offstage through the stage curtains or occasionally losing one’s place in the script made the audience really see the process up close and are highlights in themselves.
“It was really meant for the audience but it was really fun for us too,” said Jorge Bolanos, fourth-year Performing Arts major from Tampa, FL who played Kenickie, a member of the Burger Palace Boys. “I think it translated well and the audience had more fun because they knew the songs.”
One would have never guessed that there were any nerves onstage and Danny, played by Performing Arts graduate Mario Matthews, credited the audience for that.
“Tonight was really exciting. The energy was so infectious that it made us all calm … I loved it!” Matthews said. He also noted that it was an altogether different experience from the last as they both were memorable and unique in their own way.
Be sure to check out the third installment; a rarely heard musical set in the 1940’s entitled Trixy True: Teen Detective. It’s based on the classic Nancy Drew mystery series and will be held at the Mondanaro Theater in Crites Hall on Wednesday, March 13 at 7pm.