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Music Circus season opens with 'Grease'
TIMES: 8 p.m. today-Saturday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H St., Sacramento
TICKETS: Start at $30.
CALL: Wells Fargo Pavilion, 916-557-1999; Tickets.com, 916-766-2277
ONLINE: Sacramento MusicCircus.com
"Grease" is the word — the word that filled the sold-out house on Tuesday night when the Music Circus kicked off its 67th season. It was an interesting experience getting to Sacramento's favorite tent of the summer. The streets were backed up with cars looking to park, while ticket holders streamed down the sidewalks like ants heading for a picnic.
That's all music to the ears of the California Musical Theatre management, who looked for a different way to fill the tent this year. Instead of the typical six shows during the summer, this season will feature five, with the theater dark every other week. Evidenced by the enthusiastic crowd, it's already a good call.
When you think of "Grease," it's hard not to immediately conjure up images of Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in the 1978 movie as the two love-torn/struck teeny bops from Rydell High circa 1959.
But under the directing hand of Glenn Casale, Kirsten Scott commands her own Sandy, the goody-two-shoes new girl who's fallen for bad boy Danny Zuko (Brandon Albright). When she croons "Hopelessly Devoted to You," close your eyes and it could be Newton John singing, with an ability to hold a perfect clear note for a breathtakingly long, long time.
Based on the book by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, this production features 20 numbers also penned by the duo, including favorites as "Summer Nights," "You're the One That I Want" and "We Go Together."
While Scott holds her own in this production, it's Lesli Margherita as bad girl Betty Rizzo, the fast-talking, cheap wine-swilling teen who steals the show. From her saucy attitude to her snappy red high-heeled Mary Jane shoes, she's the queen of the girls — the Pink Ladies — and the queen of the round stage, whether she's making her latest squeeze jealous or showing Sandy the finer things in life.
At a pajama party, the quick quips just roll off her tongue as she encourages Sandy to try a cigarette: "Don't worry, it won't kill ya." The audience snickered as she moved on to defend her choice of Italian Swiss Colony wine when the other girls preferred Thunderbird.
Rizzo has bigger things in mind, though, and when the other girls pass out, she slips out the window to meet the guys, where Kenicke (Michael D. Jabolonski) rolls up in his new candy apple red sports car — "Greased Lightning." (Yes, he really did drive a car onto that round stage.)
Later, in the park, where all the kids started pairing up for the upcoming school dance, Margherita really revealed the range in her pipes in "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," Rizzo's spoof at Sandy's innocence. Rizzo's final jab at Sandy ends when she arranges to go to the dance with Danny. But things don't go as Rizzo planned, and in the end, Sandy gets the one she wants.
This tale of '50s teen angst is sweet thanks to David Draper's costumes: full skirts, black leather jackets and oxfords and bobby socks. Hair, wig and makeup designer Christine Conklin's swinging pony tails and ample use of Aqua Net are appreciatively noted.