photo: Joan Marcus
By now, the property known as Grease has been reshaped and reformed so many times over that it is difficult to answer this question: was it ever a good musical? As it is in the current Broadway revival, which seems designed as a star vehicle for its two non-stars (cast by television contest) and which melds material from the play with the movie, its message seems to be that a girl can get a guy by dressing like a slut and hold on to one by not getting pregnant. I did in fact see the original Broadway production way back when as a tyke, and mostly remember that it looked like a high school yearbook come to life and that it had enough sexual innuendo to make my aunt second-guess taking me along. But on the surface, this revival is the most family-friendly Grease I could imagine and safe for the kindergarten set: now the chicks will scream for Greased Lightning rather than cream. Beyond the blanding sanitization and the casting of two leads who can not hold the stage, this revival fails to capture any feeling of nostalgia for the 1950's and repeats many of the mistakes of the movie (the "kids" look like 30 year olds) minus the compensatory charisma of the film's stars. If Grease ever had a soul it's long gone now. There is one, and exactly one, performance that pops off the stage: surprisingly, it's not Jenny Powers, who belts "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" with feeling but who otherwise is a bland Rizzo. No, it's one Robyn Hurder, who manages to do something with the nothing role of Marty. Robyn Hurder is to Grease what Leslie Kritzer was to Legally Blonde.