By Robert Haugh
Grease is one of the most popular movies of all-time. Sunnyvale Community Players (SCP) is currently producing the musical. The cast, which boastfully carries about the characters keeps the audience tapping their toes, laughing, clapping, and singing along to some of the most famous songs from the blockbuster 1978 movie, adapted from the musical.
In the SCP production, Sandy Dumbrowski (the Olivia Newton John character known as Sandy Olson in the film) is played amazingly by a Mission City alum, former Miss Santa Clara and Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen Melissa Gialdini (nee Bowling). Many may recall Gialdini’s riveting rendition of the National anthem at many Santa Clara community events, including Veterans Memorial events, the first “Mission City Cup” professional wrestling event, the first game at Levi’s Stadium and San Jose Sharks games. Her opposite in the community performance is Nick Dale, who plays the John Travolta role of Danny Zuko.
The cast becomes one with their characters. You’d think they were The Rock or Hulk Hogan the way they reach into their roles and adopt their personas.
Some of the other standout performances include Sam Nachison as Kenickie, Kriselle Kelly as Rizzo, Amanda Nguyen as Frenchie and Giuseppe Vaccaro as Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel. Everyone pitches in for stunning musical numbers and fun, well-choreographed dances. There’s even a fight between the T-Birds and Scorpions that features some, well, interesting “weapons” you would expect to see in a steel cage match. Director Bill Starr, Music Director Kevin Surace and co-producers husband-and-wife Barbara Moline and Nick Moline hit a grand slam, creating a big league production in the cozy venue.
While some of lighting, props and effects are more similar to an independent wrestling show, or a minor league baseball game, the performance is top notch. The live musical accompaniment is phenomenal and the themes and issues addressed are as relevant today as ever: teenage pregnancy, bullying, and peer pressure.
For big time fans of the movie, be advised: the musical is not the movie. The storyline is much the same, though there are some new songs not in the movie. Many of the music numbers Grease fans love from the movie will get you hopping, such as Greased Lightnin’, Beauty School Dropout, We Go Together, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted and more. Many are accompanied by popular dance jives as well. But be prepared for some new jingles you’ve never heard.
While it may not be a WrestleMania-esque spectacle, the Sunnyvale Community Players’ performance of Grease, set in an intimate 400-seat theatre in the Sunnyvale Community Center on Remington, is a treat for any fans of music of and dance. And it’s always good to see a Miss Santa Clara be successful.
Performances run through Sunday, October 7. Visit https://www.sunnyvaleplayers.org/index.html for more details and show times.
Sunnyvale Community Players is a 501c3 non-profit “dedicated to the preservation of the performing arts in the Silicon Valley.”