Caption: (center) Matt Nolan as Danny and Alyssa Herrera as Sandy, and the company of Grease, perform the finale of Grease. Photo © Joan Marcus.

For a limited run engagement, the musical Grease has once again descended on Vancouver audiences. Playing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver, the show is running from Oct. 21st through 31st, 2010. I managed to land tickets for Alasdair and I and we met up with our good friend and fellow cast member Jonny and his boy Kodie. Needless to say, we were rocking in our seats and clapping (okay, singing) along with all the legendary hits. Okay, I wasn’t, cause I would have been asked to leave due to my inability to sing but other people definitely were getting into the show!

I have to admit that I have never seen Grease before, neither the musical nor the movie (part one or two as I was informed existed). I was pumped to experience this show for the first time, and more importantly check it out at the recently renovated Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The theatre looked spectacular inside; however, the outside was still behind gates as the renovations are still underway. But I digress, let’s get on with the show!!

Caption: Eddie Mekka (center) as Vince Fontaine teaches the gang at Rydell High to do the “Hand Jive.” Photo by © Joan Marcus.

I want to begin by giving a HUGE shout out to the cast. There were some incredible standout performances; however, the cast as a whole was the perfect ensemble of men and women who effortlessly complimented one another. The show opened with a ten minute opening monologue/sing-a-logue with legendary actor Eddie Mekka, best known for his role in Laverne & Shirley, as Carmine – The Big Radu. He was also a major player in the show playing both Vince Fontaine AND Teen Angel. The most memorable part of his performance was his AMAZING energy and his ability to bust out a cartwheel and THE WORM as part of the final performance/dance segment – EPIC!

If you haven’t seen or heard of the musical (then you are living under the same rock I crawled out from), the Grease plot follows the lives of a group of teenagers attending Rydell High School in the 1950s. Enter poodle skirts, epic beehive hairdos and dippity-do hair gel to grease the boy’s hair back – pun intended!

It wouldn’t be Grease without incredible performances from the two lead characters, Danny Zuko played by Matt Nolan and Sandy Dumbrowski played by Alyssa Herrera. Okay, Alyssa literally rocked my world as the ‘made over’ Sandy in the second act of the musical. Her costume was retro-radical, her hair was curled and teased to perfection and her voice was the perfect fit for the live stage adaption. As for Matt Nolan, he was as equally brilliant as his co-star Herrera. The difference was his deliciously tight blue jeans and sexy/manly voice carrying the tune of several numbers/solos throughout the night. That’s a few slashes to hang your hat on stud!

Caption: (from left to right) Brad Lawson as Roger, Marc Winski as Doody, Patrick Cragin as Kenickie, Patrick Joyce as Sonny and Matt Nolan as Danny, perform the number “Greased Lightnin’” – photo by © Joan Marcus.

The question on several people’s minds going into tonight’s performance was how would these two lead actors measure up to the legendary film stars that tackled the respective identical roles? Comparing Matt Nolan to John Travolta would be extremely difficult, largely because I haven’t see the movies! Ha! The same goes for Alyssa Herrera and Olivia Newton-John. On that note, I would be willing to go out on a limb and attest that both performances would have moved the living icons and impressed them to the point of a standing ovation at the end of the show.

With all that said, I must award two standout performances of the night. First, the runner up as standout performance goes to Alicia Kelly who enacted the role of Marty. This character had amazing sex appeal and desperately sought the attention from any man that would look her way. Kelly captured this essence (yes, essence if you will) to a tee – miraculously bouncing around between several suitors without once drawing true attention to her promiscuity. Brilliant! As for the ultimate standout performance, I have to credit this to Lauren Elaine Taylor, playing the role of Betty Rizzo. I was informed that her character’s development and impact in the movie adaptation is a heck of a lot different than that of the live stage. The moment that caught my breath was her solo performance, singing the words of recently becoming pregnant (or getting knocked up, as it’s easier to rhyme) and not knowing how to deal with it. Taylor’s emotion and acting abilities shone through her intense stage make up to resonate with each audience member. The number was stunning and she rightfully deserved some of the loudest applause and accolades at the end of the show.

As I mentioned, Grease is here on a limited run engagement and you HAVE to check it out! This is the first musical I’ve made it to this season and it’s ramping up to be one of the best this year!

For more information and to get your tickets, check out Ticketmaster Eor the Queen Elizabeth Theatre online ticket forum: www.queenelizabeththeatre.org

Believe me, your eyes and ears will thank you…