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Stage Right opens season with 'Grease!'

| Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2004

Go Greased Lightnin'!

In celebration of the era that brought us hot rods, pedal pushers and malt shops, Stage Right will open its 2004-2005 season Thursday with "Grease!" -- a musical nominated for seven Tony Awards during its initial Broadway run in 1972.

Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, "Grease!" revolves around greaser Danny (Tim Marquette) and squeaky-clean Sandy (Katie Kirshner). Both walk the halls of Rydell High School, where it's cool to be tough.

Danny fits; Sandy certainly does not. The Pink Ladies ridicule her virginal ways, especially rough-around-the-edges Rizzo (Renata Marino) -- the Ladies' leader.

Ultimately, Sandy must decide whether to remain with the wholesome crowd, or reinvent herself in order to hang on to Danny.

"I don't think the message there is exactly the best. You know, the 'Hey, if I change I'll be popular' kind of thing," Kirshner says.

"But I can definitely identify with Sandy. A lot, " she adds, laughing. "I feel like I'm still that way. Kind of shy. And in high school, I was not in the popular crowd, so I know how that feels, too."

Marquette, on the other hand, has to "dig kind of deep" to reach Danny.

"He's just such a cocky guy," says the 24-year-old actor. "But when he gets into the tender stuff, the falling in love stuff, I can definitely see that aspect of him. I think we are all a part of that."

So, too, are we a part of the show's long legacy, notes Anthony Marino, artistic director. So much so, he adds, it's nearly impossible to find an audience member who doesn't know the travails of Danny and Sandy -- made famous in film by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John in 1978.

"As a director and artist, you walk a fine line," Marino says. "You want to take a piece and interpret it in your own way. But you also have a responsibility to your audience. And the audience knows this show. So you have a responsibility to make sure that all the things they want to see are there."

Stage Right's translation• Marino says he prefers the original stage version to the 1994 Broadway revival -- a "big, blown-up Vegas piece."

"I really want this to be about the '50s," he emphasizes. "I don't want it to be about taking the '50s and filtering it through a modern-day glitz machine."

A "sweet homage," Marino calls it; a "resurrection of archetypes" -- the greaser, prom queen, cheerleader, tough girl, smoker, hairdresser sorts.

"Danny could come off as a total jerk," says the director -- who also plays the role of Teen Angel in the production. "But he's not a total jerk. He's just a guy who knows he has to be tough, but then all of a sudden, he falls for this girl Sandy, who is nothing like the other girls he's fallen for."

Also featured in the cast are Joe Pedulla as Kenickie, Jenn Smith as Marty, Scott Sambucco as Sonny LaTierri, Elizabeth Matthews as Patty Simcox and Damon Spencer as Roger. Other greasers: Kiley Caughey, Elly Noble, John Noble, Beverly Price and Alex Noble.

And in a special tribute to the '50s, the Road Kings will present a "Car Cruise" 6 p.m. Friday on Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg -- just prior to the evening's curtain call.

"It's all just so much fun," says Marquette. "There are a lot of high school kids in the show, a lot of adults who have been performing professionally for years, a great mix of people in the ensemble and fantastic choreography and vocals. I think people who come to see it are in for a high-energy treat." Additional Information:

Details

Grease!

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Palace Theatre, Greensburg

Tickets: $20 for floor and loge seating; $18 for balcony seating; $15 for children 12 and under; $10 for all seats Thursday; $10 for high school and college students with valid ID Friday

Road Kings Car Cruise: 6 p.m. Friday on Pennsylvania Avenue, Greensburg. Admission is free

Details: 724-832-7464 or 724-836-8000

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