I had the opportunity to catch the re-run of Grease by 9 Works Theatrical last week. I went in not knowing quite what to expect.
I did not get to see the production last year, where the 9 Works team received at least 13 citations, including outstanding production of existing material for a play, going against “The Producers” by Repertory Philippines.
It has been a while since I saw the 1978 film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John that I only have a vague recollection of the story.
So aside from a vague recollection of the soundtrack – “We Go Together” remains an all-time favorite, my only idea of Grease came from the teaser shots and press releases.
That is not to say that I had no expectations. Knowing the capabilities of the team behind the production and seeing the names of the actors actually lifted my expectations up.
I was pumped when I heard that my former schoolmate Antoinette Taus will be going back onstage to take the role of Betty Rizzo.
This year’s production is also going to have new leads, with Guji Lorenzana playing Danny Zuko and Tippy Dos Santos playing Sandy Dumbrowski.
To add to the pressure, the press screening that I saw would be the first time that everything falls into place.
So how come I walked out of the theater smiling and singing all the way to the parking lot?
1. Solid performances
The overall performance was really tight. You will be surprised to learn that it took the team only a month to rehearse and put everything together.
In an upbeat, dance-heavy musical production like Grease there is a lot of movement. The more movement you have, the more places you can go wrong.
Timing is also essential in delivery, and the lines felt seamless and fluid.
the scenes were really good
2. Production value
I could not help but admire the props. Every scene was distinct and had its own identity. I really like the colorful, hand-painted backdrops.
Speaking of color, we have to give kudos to Mio Infante for the work he did on the costumes. The clothes were distinct and colorful. The outfits were clean and modern, yet they managed to retain the essential elements of the original look.
The clothes really made the characters stand out, especially Betty Rizzo (Antoinette Taus) and Marty (Alexandra Godinez).
The lighting was also well done – it really set the mood.
In one of my favorite scenes, Sandy Dumbrowski (Tippy Dos Santos) was in her pajamas, singing, while dancers swayed in the background.
A glitter ball hung at the top of the stage, scattering light all around. It was magical.
3. Element of surprise
Grease is Grease. Perhaps you already know the story. Maybe you saw the movie. Maybe you did a school performance and you know all the steps.
Perhaps, like me, you know the songs by heart and you can sing every line along with the cast.
But perhaps, like me, you get to see Grease with new eyes – and end up walking out of the theater with a smile, feeling pleasantly surprised.