By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- The enthusiasm of the cast of Riverside Theatre's final main stage show, "Grease" is as contagious as the iconic songs in the musical.
Leather jackets, high heeled pumps, cigarette smoke and energetic music and choreography in the musical number "Summer Nights," got the opening night audience in the mood for a trip back to high school for drama, romance and cliques.
"Grease" premiered on Broadway in 1972 and has delighted audiences ever since, and Vero Beach's production will definitely keep that streak alive.
The Vero Beach professional theater teamed up with the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia to co-produce the musical, said Allen Cornell, producing artistic director.
The production of "Grease" will run in Vero Beach through May 4, then move to the Philadelphia stage through July 14, he said.
Walnut Street Theatre first opened in 1809 as an equestrian circus, and has remained an entertainment venue ever since. It is the oldest theater in America and with more than 56,000 subscribers is the most subscribed theater company in the world.
Matthew Ragas and Laura Giknis played the leads of Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in Riverside Theatre's production.
As Danny, Mr. Ragas successfully balanced the tightrope of his character's too-cool-for-school and puppy love personas, while Ms. Giknis as Sandy played her wholesome character to perfection as well.
The pair only sang together twice, but their musical performances left the audiences with warm and fuzzy romantic feelings, full of nostalgia for their days of young love.
The sarcastic and worldly Betty Rizzo was played by Kate Fahrner. Ms. Fahrner stood out among the cast by her onstage presence, taking her character's rough and seemingly uncaring behavior to just the right level. Her voice in "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," was rich and lusty, with a touch of vibrato where appropriate.
Eric Kunze played double duty as both radio disk jockey Vince Fontaine and the Teen Angel in the "Beauty School Drop Out" musical number.
Mr. Kunze's melodious and honeyed voice rang from the rafters as he smoothly crooned and danced to one of the musical's most well-loved songs.
The production is fraught with 1950s-era clothing, hairstyles, phrases and dance moves, making for a fun show that will have audiences humming the songs long after the performance is over.
From "Alma Mater Parody" to "We Go Together" the company's dance routines are both high in energy and jam-packed with fast-moving lyrics Both theaters should be proud of the talent level of the cast members involved in the production. Tickets are $36-$70. Matinee and evening performances are available.
For tickets or more information, call (772) 231-6990 or visit www.riversidetheatre.com.