ldyjocelyn

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Posts posted by ldyjocelyn


  1. Politicon is moving to Nashville this year, being held the last full weekend in October.  I'm tempted....it's only 6 hours or so away, and my husband would love to peruse the musical instruments shops again.  But, he still doesn't have a full job though -- several opportunities have arisen though, so if you can send any good thoughts/prayers our way, it would be appreciated.  Anyway, I'm hoping that Politicon has another successful year!


  2. And from siclayfan, with permission:

    Quote

    Thanks to  hosaa for posting out Meet and greet picture from yesterday, especially since I have no clue how to do it, and special thanks to her for letting me be part of her meet and greet. I had originally planned on going to 2 shows, after all Clay was on only six minutes right!! I ended up  seeing 4 shows and enjoyed each one more than the other.  The whole cast is talented and Clay was absolutely fabulous.

    I managed to make a fool of myself asking silly questions at the Meet and Greet and of course Clay was his usual bratty self.  I meant to ask how Harlem was on long rides in the car, but somehow I asked him about Harlem driving and then about him riding in the car to which he responded no he runs after the car when I',m driving. I finally got it out right and he did say Harlem has always been a good traveler.  I also asked whom the cast liked better him or Harlem and of course he said the dog. There were several sightings of Harlem being walked after the show in front of the theater. 

    Like Hosaa I also intended to wish him Happy Father's day, but somehow the mind shuts down every time I meet him.  . I can't get over how skinny he looks. I wasn't at the Gala but from what everyone has said and the pictures I've seen he did look quite a bit heavier such a short time ago.. 

    It was a lovely venue and would love to see him there again.  Like Hosaa mentioned Clay said if anyone offers him another 5 minute role he'll be right there. He did also comment how much he liked the people that he worked with there.. He said there were no inflated egos.

     


  3. Those reviews are excellent!  Although I'm not quite sure about Clay as Frank N Furter....

    As promised, the recap from hosaa used with permission.  The M&G picture is of her and siclayfan also with permission.

    Quote

     

    Clay was very sweet and his usual sarcastic self. I was annoyed that my visitor's badge used my full name instead of my familiar name, and he said he wondered why he didn't recognize it. Then he explained that's what's on my driver's license, which they scanned to make the badge. 

    I asked how the Grease gig came about for him, and he said his manager knows the producer (or artistic director) here and they've been trying to get him to do something here for a few seasons. As for what's next, he said he'll take another 5-minute performance anytime!

    During today's show, instead of trying the splits again, he just fell to his knees and started leaning back till his back touched the floor. He told us he didn't know what he was going to do until he did it, and if the guys didn't help him up he'd have to roll over on his stomach.

    He also said he planned to drive home tonight. I totally forgot to wish him happy Father's Day. 

    I forgot one more thing... Clay said he gets to keep his shoes! "Auction items!" 

     

     

    post-4010-0-32452600-1560719204.jpg


  4. broadwayworld.com

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE a Shoo-Be Doo-Wop She-Bop Good Time

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE a Shoo-Be Doo-Wop She-Bop Good Time

    by  Jun. 16, 2019  

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE a Shoo-Be Doo-Wop She-Bop Good Time

     

    "It's got groove; it's got meaning. Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion." For the Pittsburgh CLO, the star-studded cast of Grease rocks the Benedum and sets the tone for a riveting summer season. With Broadway and television actors flooding the stage, the musical has proven to be a shoo-be doo-wop she-bopgood time.

    In a way, Grease is the original high school musical. Summer days drift away, and the show opens with the students of Rydell High returning from their summer break. The time is the late 1950s, and societal issues are about to be undertaken by some of these rebellious teenagers. At Rydell, there are two groups of cool kids: the guys being the Burger Palace Boys and the girls being the Pink Ladies.

    The Burger Palace Boys are greasers - tall, dark, handsome males wearing leather jackets, tight pants, and slicked-back hair. They are the tough archetypical guys from the 50s, and they're interested in cars, their gang, and of course the Pink Ladies.

    Mirroring them are the Pink Ladies. Their group is shaken when new girl Sandy Dumbrowski (Kristen Martin) joins in. Sandy is a transfer student and a goody two shoes, until it's discovered that she has a little more of a wild side; over the summer, Danny Zuko (Zach Adkins) and she had a small but passionate fling. Now interacting with him in his natural environment, will he still be the same Danny as he was in the summer?

    Luckily for you, the ensuing two hour journey is filled with familiar tunes like "Greased Lightnin'" and "Beauty School Dropout." Whether this is your first encounter with Grease or you've seen the musical or movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John dozens of times, the cast of the CLO's production makes the show unique.

    As it's written, the musical version of Grease features minimal character development, despite touching on themes ranging from gangs to teenage pregnancy (Yes; this show is still appropriate for all audiences). Its glamour and allure is promoted through its cult following and mesmerizing music that have transcended nearly five decades. With that in mind, the leads of the show made their characters unique with the limited material at hand.

    Take Betty Rizzo, played by the incomparable Jackie Burns. She is the leader of the Pink Ladies (Regina George of the Plastics, if you will), and she developed subtle, yet memorable mannerisms, like her incessant gum chewing. More than that, Ms. Burns' tenacity makes focusing on anyone else almost impossible when she's on the stage; and when she's singing, forget about it! It's actors like Ms. Burns that make you wish she had significantly more songs to sing.

    Zach Adkins, playing the leading Danny Zuko, displays similar effervescence. Like Ms. Burns, Mr. Adkins stuns when he enters the stage and belts out his heartfelt melodies in "Sandy" and "You're the One That I Want." His cool guy persona is flawless - not over-the-top or underwhelming - but the right amount of suave.

    Speaking of things being just right, Clay Aiken as Teen Angel gives a lovely rendition of "Beauty School Dropout." He receives layered applause as he struts across the stage in his pink suit for his cameo appearance. He makes the role his own and adds nuance to his comedic character's brief time on stage.

    It's unfortunate that his performance, along with the opening number, was marred by sound issues, however; whether it was the orchestra overpowering the truly excellent vocals or muffled microphones making indistinguishable diction, the sound design in the venue left me wanting clarity during a number of scenes in the show.

    On the visual side of things, the costume design left for a visually pleasing and vibrant display of color. The dancing was unique, but also showed similarities to the movie, as well as Broadway revivals. In "We Go Together," hula-hoops are used, as was the case in the 1994 revival. To me, these distracted from the performance on stage and left many questions at intermission.

    Aside from the hula-hoops for me, what will be remembered is the sheer talent that came from this production of Grease. From Mr. Aiken to Mr. Adkins, Ms. Martin to Ms. Burns, and everyone in between, the cast of this production transformed an American classic into a unique Pittsburgh experience that will become an individualized memory to all who saw.

    To see or not to see score: 6/9; Moderately Recommended Show

    Photo by: Matt Polk


  5. www.broadwayworld.com

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE Is Still the Word at Benedum Center

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE Is Still the Word at Benedum Center

    by  Jun. 16, 2019  

    BWW Review: Pittsburgh CLO's GREASE Is Still the Word at Benedum CenterWhen was the last time you went to a show and were disappointed that it wasnTand 't at all racist, sexist or homophobic? As Tevye would say, "sounds crazy, no?" But what if the show in question was a brutal satire about the blinding power of nostalgia, and the way it sands the rough, objectionable edges off the past in order to provide a palatable, mainstream-friendly image of a past that never was? Wouldn't you be justified in being a little disappointed that this new adaptation has lost its train of thought, and become the very thing it was once parodying? Or is that just as bad as the Internet trolls who got mad last month that "Archie Bunker can't say the N-word anymore" in the restaging of All in the Family and The Jeffersons?

    This is a tricky issue. Lord knows I hope no one is accusing me of being a bigot in any way, and if I've offended anyone, I apologize strongly and sincerely. I suppose my issue here is with authorial intent and satire. The original Grease, even after it had been neutered for its initial Broadway run, was a spoof of period pieces. The music was primitive and a little squeaky-clean, but the characters singing it were unidealized losers: they used racial slurs, they treated their women like crap, they indulged guiltlessly in petty crime, and they made gay jokes and ethnic jokes like it was nothing. Even the women were rougher around the edges than you'd see in Happy Days, and not in endearing ways. The show's original opening sequence was a class reunion in which the goody-goodies of the 1950s announce that some of the classmates they remember the most would not be joining them: they were killed in Vietnam and Korea in the earliest, roughest version, they were in jail in a later revision, and finally they were "just too cool for class reunions." Instead, nowadays the greasers and Pink Ladies just burst out of a gym locker, strutting and singing "Grease Is the Word." They cuss a little, they tussle a bit, and some of their language isn't too PC, but you'd struggle to call the greasers or the Pink Ladies scumbags.

    Take away that satiric underpinning of "forget Fonzie, this is what the fifties you daydream about were REALLY like," and you lose a little bit of cohesion. The show doesn't have too much of a plot; events just come and go in a loose picaresque, characters butt heads here and there, and eventually it sort of... ends. (Both the film version and the live TV version tweaked the plot to make things more linear and character based, as opposed to the "and now they're singing because we wrote a song" feel of the revised Broadway script, upon which this production is based.) At the same time, is this reinvention of the show as a genuine piece of nostalgia, instead of a criticism thereof, necessarily a bad thing? Sixty-some years removed from the birth of rock and roll, criticism of nostalgia feels less urgent and more futile- it's not like somebody today wrote a show pining for their glory days in the Bush Era. And as I looked around the theatre, I was amazed at how multigenerational the fanbase of Grease was. Sure, you had the usual mix of young millennials, families and blue-hairs (only it's Grease, so I saw more than a few pink-hairs), but then there were the wannabe T-Birds and Pink Ladies. (Yes, yes, I know they're actually called the Burger Palace Boys in the script, but the Burger Palace never actually appears in the revised script, nor are the greasers referred to by ANY gang name in the script, so everyone still thinks of them as the T-Birds unless they check the fine print in their program.) I saw old men, Boomers, millennials and even little kids in leather jackets and white t-shirts; similarly, girls and women ages seven to seventy were rocking poodle skirts, Pink Lady jackets and plastic sunglasses. It was like a PG Rocky Horror. Clearly, Grease as a cultural artifact means something to these people on a sincere level, and not an ironic one, and as a theatre writer and composer myself, it's hard to begrudge the success of something that has actually come to mean something to the world at large.

    Okay. Enough of my structural analysis of why Grease does and does not work. Grad school is over, I have my degree. Let's talk about the production. Director and choreographer Barry Ivan's staging, in a licensed production based on the most recent Broadway incarnations (there are about a dozen variant versions of Grease out there, and this is the current most common), has kept the show zipping along, fast and funny and full of energy. Never missing an opportunity for a high-energy dance number, Ivan adds hula-hooping to "We Go Together," rock-star fantasies to "Those Magic Changes," and even burlesque to "Shakin' at the High School Hop." His talented ensemble, including teens from CLO Academy, is clearly having a hell of a time.

    Zach Adkins, as Danny Zuko, wisely dials back the caricatured aspects of his archetypal greaser, going less Travolta or James Dean and more subdued. If you imagine Ryan Gosling as Zuko, you've got the idea, only Gosling's rough, thin indie-rock voice can't do the things Adkins does. Kristen Martin's Sandy is fresh-faced and earnest, her Disney-ready voice shining in every solo and ensemble number; it's a shame this current incarnation of the script skimps on her character development compared to one or two of the others, because Martin is clearly capable of a much deeper character than the Broadway Sandy Dumbrowsky. The rest of the greasers and Pink Ladies are mostly on comic relief duty, though each has a chance to shine: Melessie Clark and Alex Prakkenamping up the physical comedy in the innuendo-laden "Mooning," Mei Lu Barnum smiling blithely through Frenchie's ongoing cluelessness, Daniel J. Maldonado nailing the transformation between Doody's musical imcompetence and growing guitar-playing skill. And then there's Jackie Burns as Rizzo, who almost feels like she's in a different show than everyone else (in a good way). She inhabits this thinly-drawn character with a confidence and physicality, as well as a knockout voice, that feels more human than anything else in the play. It probably helps that Rizzo's open relationship with Kenickie (Vince Oddo), which was meant to make her look slutty or disreputable in the old days, now seems like a pretty common "friends with benefits" situation unlikely to raise an eye or call her character into question today.

    This being Grease, the show really belongs to the bit players and comic cameos. Andrea Weinzerl, a frequent presence over the past few years in ensemble tracks for Pittsburgh Public's musicals, gets a fantastic showpiece as pushy Type-A Patty Simcox, Sandy's rival for Danny's affection. With a mile-a-minute upbeat jabber straight out of Tim Burton's suburbia satires, and incredible moves in the Act 2 dance contest, Weinzerl definitely proves she's more than a just a chorus girl. Her partner in crime, high school nerd Eugene, is played by Jordan De Leon, and in one of the few really positive changes from the original, this Eugene is more than just the butt of constant nerd jokes and gay jokes- he may come across as stuffy and effete for most of the show, but when he finally gets his turn in the dance contest, he not only proves to be just as good a dancer as the greasers, but (to Patty's dismay) just as much of a horndog. It's not exactly character development, but it's a fun subversion of expectations. Also in the dance sequence, Matt Bogart's recurring cameo as full-time DJ, part-time pedophile Vince Fontaine gets plenty of laughs, though they may be more uncomfortable than they used to be in this #MeToo era.

    And don't think I've forgotten Clay Aiken, the big star around whom this production has been marketed. I will fully confess that I had misgivings about Aiken's casting, expecting one of far too many lifeless "ex-superstar comes out in white clothes, sings like they're at a concert and then leaves" put-ins that the role of Teen Angel has been subjected to. Gosh and shucks was I wrong. The Clay Aiken of 2019 is an improbable but winning fusion of Billy Porter's voice and Martin Short's everything else. Making an entrance dressed as Liberace, towering in sequined "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" platform shoes, and mincing wincingly down the stairs towards Frenchie, Clay Aiken has blissfully thrown away any sense of pop-star pride and decorum, and embraced this opportunity to embody a sneering gay-camp nightmare. Towering over the diminutive Barnum thanks to the aforementioned shoes, gasping, scowling and doing double-takes over the glittered-up chorus boys, turning on a dime from patronizing to vicious, all the while singing like an angel... forget Grease, somebody book Clay Aiken a tour as Frank N. Furter in Rocky Horror! (I've done almost two decades of Rocky Horror productions, and there are Franks who sing and Franks who pose. Aiken does both.)

    So here I am at the end of this complicated, over-long review where I praised everything about a show except the show itself. Did I like it? Yes, I really liked it. Do I like Greaseitself? I don't know- given the number of variables now involved in that statement, it's almost like saying "do you like food?" Would I recommend this show to other people? You bet your sweet pleather-clad ass I would. For all its ups and downs, evolutions and deevolutions over the years, there's still no fifties nostalgia vehicle like it; All Shook Upand Happy Days the Musical can't hold a candle. After almost fifty years, Grease is still the word.


  6. Weekend recaps from ncwannabe at CV, posted with permission.

    Quote

    Meryle and I were holding each other's hand as we knew his number was coming up. He came out to a very welcoming round-of-applause as he arrived with a flourish of his arms on a top-tier of the stage. The shoes are incredible! We don't know how he walked in them! Then to our absolute horror, he had to walk down the steps in the things to the Beat of the Music. But he did it flawlessly! All the while, flourishing with his arms and being over-the-top flamboyant and singing his heart out. The audience was eating it up. It's Camp to the max. He rubbed shoulders with the shirtless guys a few times, and then at one point, actually has his back toward their chest and sort of leans back against them and moans. It was hilarious! His voice sounded wonderful, hit a glory note or two. And also had a lot of control in the softer parts. If you can call any of the campy schtick soft. LOL. He towers over the actress who plays Frenchie. The shirtless guys pick him up at the end of the number, and he hits a glory note while he's up there and the audience loved it they were hooting and hollering. Not only was the suit glittery, he had a ton of rings on his fingers that would catch the light and glitter all over the place. He's Glittering from head to toe! He does come out for for the finale, still in his role with the flamboyant arms and those shoes. It was classic, campy clay at his absolute best. He nailed it. And the audience loved it. It was a great show! 

    Quote

    We're (Mercedes and I) baaaaack! Our third and last show. And each one, the overall show has gotten better and better. The cast is extremely youthful and energetic, and they've really gelled now with this being the third show. Clay, however, has been excellent from the get-go. The platform shoes are a goner, since he told me they broke again. So now he has white jazz shoes - which make us feel much better when going down the stairs! People applaud him throughout the song - he really gets a great response. Tonight I realized what a great vocal range he shows throughout the song. Early on he's in that lower register a few times, but he still manages to go way up high and hit a few Glory notes in the process. His voice reverberates throughout the theater. At his Curtain Call, he gets the most Applause of anyone in the cast - even more than Danny and Sandy. After his number was over, I heard people behind me saying wow! What a voice! Then someone said something like, but he didn't even win. LOL. Mercedes' seatmate on the other side of her have that vacant Aiken glassy-eyed smile after his number was over. The show is really good and we had a great time! 

     


  7. Another weekend recap, from From Claygary, reprinted with permission:

    Saturday evening:

    Quote

     

    Oh what an afternoon! The show was absolutely great, and my non-fan (but not NON fan IYKWIMAITTYD) friend was highly entertained. Those shoes!! She kept saying... She was vastly impressed with the voice...and his sense of balance 

    We were up in the Director's Circle (1st balcony) and of course I had the 8 ft teenager sitting in front of me, so I missed a lot..so happy we're going again
    The whole ensemble has great voicees, and I was amazed by how much music I didn't know was in Grease! 
    Those Magic Changes was not up to Clays level of course and was mildly disappointing, as I just love it. ;(
    Clay was stu-pendous!! In amazing form...all the people around me were abuzz.. I could hear all the Clay Aik

    en...Clay Aiken..Clay Aiken whispers as people obviously said 'Who was THAT"??! Probably season ticket holders... ;)

    FUN!! GO!! 

     

    Sunday afternoon:

    Quote

     

    Home!! We got home last night around 2 AM after seeing Sunday's matinee from the main floor (our other tickets were up in the 1st balcony aka "Director's Circle"  ). Although our seats were well off to the side of RC, it was a completely different perspective on the show, and both my NJU friend and I thought this was our best show.

    Clay was really on and seemed to be refreshed after Saturday's shows. It didn't show in his performance Saturday, but he was beat...could this have ANYthing to do with the first day of 2 shows, and a cast party the night before? Hmmmmm.....  Jazz hands were back in full force, and the dance shoes were a great relief for us, if not for Clay as well! He was in amazing voice!

    I was sitting beside an older couple who live just north of Cranberry, and purchase the 3-pack of tickets regularly for the summer shows, as they can't count on getting into the city in the winter (I can relate!!) They had chosen this one specifically because of Clay Atkin  and were so excited to see him again. As others have said, Clay's applause far exceeds anyone else's in the show, and I really think many people were there just for him.

    We saw him at stage door Saturday night, and I thought the reaction of the crowd at the door was really interesting~we had seen several of the other performers come out, and most present clapped for those ones they recognized and said "Great show", "good job" etc, and asked to have programs signed by many of the cast, which they seemed to enjoy....but when Clay passed by the door (possibly to go grab a pen?) there was an audible gasp from those at the door (90% NJU) and there was just something in the atmosphere that changed like an electric charge had gone through....there was NO security at the door to speak of, and he was just there for a very short time, but there was much       after he went back in!

    We saw Harlem several times as well, BTW...Damon Gillespie was at the door with his Mom and Dad, and he was telling them that everyone in the cast     Harlem, and how well trained and good he was. I think it was the girl who played Sandy who was walking him in his cute bow tie and matching leash.

     

     


  8. post-gazette.com

    Reviews: From the chilling future of 'Marjorie Prime' to the nostalgia of 'Grease'

    Reviews: From the chilling future of 'Marjorie Prime' to the nostalgia of 'Grease'
     
     
    SHARON EBERSON
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
     
     
    JUN 10, 2019
     
    11:34 AM

    PIttsburgh CLO’s ‘Grease’

    Let’s start by saying Clay Aiken in a pink-sequined suit is everything fun and fanciful about “Grease,” and his voice takes “Beauty School Dropout” to glorious heights.

    It’s a world where Clay Aiken can play the same role — Teen Angel — also portrayed by Billy Porter on Broadway and Frankie Avalon on film, and Aiken plays it to the hilt, even getting a lift from a shirtless trio of chorus men.

    ‘Grease’

    Where: Pittsburgh CLO at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

    When: Through June 16. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday (2 p.m. only on June 16).

    Tickets: $26.25-$81.25, pittsburghclo.org or 412-456-6666.

    Now that I’ve fanned myself, this Pittsburgh CLO “Grease” is a hybrid of the Broadway play and the movie — it uses the music created just for the film, opening with the title song and including “You’re the One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

    There is a little less raunch than the original Broadway version, with lyrics to songs such as “Greased Lightning” cleaned up as in high school versions. But in case you are a parent who worries about such things, it should also be noted that there is an, um, mooning from the stage.

    “Grease” is still a ’50s-era story of boys who love cars and pressure girls for sex, a possible teen pregnancy and those high school friendships you never forget.

    The CLO production has some terrific voices — Jackie Burns as Rizzo, Zach Adkins as Danny, Kristen Marten as Sandy and Damon J. Gillespie as Doody among them — and it really moves.

    The opening to “Grease,” with the principals emerging from lockers, is a cute idea, and the ensemble dance numbers come in waves of nostalgic moves, with some modern touches mixed in, courtesy of director/choreographer Barry Ivan.

    This CLO production isn’t just a blast from the past; it’s also a fun night for Pittsburgh musical theater fans to see local actors such as Melessie Clark, Mei Lu Barnum, Andrea Weinzierl and Michael Greer get front-and-center moments.

    The energy level is high, but there’s no question it steps up a notch when Clay Aiken struts out in the second act and gives Pittsburgh a taste of why his Claymates are hopelessly devoted to the former American Idol.


  9. pghcitypaper.com

    American Idol alum Clay Aiken dazzles in Pittsburgh CLO's Grease

    American Idol alum Clay Aiken dazzles in Pittsburgh CLO's Grease 

    By Lisa Cunningham @trashyleesuh
    Clay Aiken in Grease - PHOTO: MATT POLK
    • Photo: Matt Polk
    • Clay Aiken in Grease

    As “Teen Angel” in the Pittsburgh CLO’s production of Grease, Clay Aiken is only on stage for about five minutes. Those five minutes, however, are fab-u-lous.

     

    If there were any doubt that the American Idol alumnus is still popular, one only needed to listen to the thunderous applause and squeals erupting throughout the Benedum Center on opening night as Aiken sang “Beauty School Dropout” in silver platform shoes, a sparkling pink suit, and Beethoven-like wig.

     

    Remember those years between Aiken becoming runner-up on American Idol and appearing on the cover of People magazine declaring “Yes, I’m gay” when people still wondered about his sexuality? Me either. 2019 Clay Aiken is G-A-Y. And he embraces it, like an over-sized Martin Short in drag; his theatrics on point, and his voice booming. This Clay Aiken would have won American Idol.

    But there's still plenty for fans of the popular production to enjoy during the rest of the performance as well, whether you're a fan of the 1978 film, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, or the original stage production — which, on opening night, coincidentally celebrated its 47th anniversary of moving to the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway on June 7, 1972.

    The plot follows high school sweethearts Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski, who had a summer fling, only to unexpectedly find themselves at the same school in the fall. Danny is a member of the school's club of bad boys, the Burger Palace Boys, and Sandy soon joins the female cohort, The Pink Ladies.

    All of the familiar characters are here: Frenchy, Jan, Sonny, Rizzo, and Kenickie. Film fans will be tempted to sing along to hits like "Summer Nights" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You," with some surprises from the original Broadway production not seen in the film, like "Mooning," performed by Alex Prakken. (Yes, you will see a bare butt.) The stage is often full, with a large cast of 17, an ensemble of 19, and a teen ensemble of 14.

     

    Zach Adkins (Danny) and Kirsten Martin (Sandy) in Grease - PHOTO: MATT POLK
    • Photo: Matt Polk
    • Zach Adkins (Danny) and Kirsten Martin (Sandy) in Grease
    While Zach Adkins is no John Travolta — his dance moves leave a lot to be desired for a character who wins a dance contest, he's got decent pipes and a charming smile: likewise, Kristen Martin is a likable Sandy, with a pretty voice and believable innocence. But it's the supporting cast of characters who really steal the show.

    Jackie Burns kills as Rizzo and her emotional rendition of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" gives Aiken a run for his money as the true star of the show. Her chemistry with actor Vince Oddo as Kenickie oozes with the chemistry the others could only dream of. Forget the Danny and Sandy show; I want to see the Rizzo and Kenickie sequel.

    The script largely sticks to the original, even though it could have benefited from some updates, with its scenes about introducing Sandy to smoking cigarettes and the dance contest declaring, "boy and girl couples only!" obviously dated. If Teen Angel can be a flamboyant gay man, how about introducing Sandy to pot instead of cigarettes and having Frenchy grinding with Cha-Cha at the school dance? And the peer pressure turning Sandy into an awkward leather-clad bombshell at the end, with little fanfare building up to it? In this day and age, the plot just feels, well, a little sad.

    Still, the production is fun, light-hearted, and enjoyable throughout with a large cast that never takes itself too seriously. The dream sequences, with sparkling silver backdrops, are both kitschy and breathtaking. The dance choreography with such a large group is impressive, especially when the entire cast participates; one of the most fun parts of the entire evening was watching the teen ensemble join the other performers as they danced on stage. Hats off to teen Will Palicki whose contagious smile lit up the entire room, standing out even behind a large professional cast.

    Grease. Through Sun., June 16. Pittsburgh CLO at Benedum Center. 237 Seventh St., Downtown. $26-81. pittsburghclo.org 


  10. Pittsburgh CityPaper review of Grease.  American Idol alum Clay Aiken dazzles in Pittsburgh CLO's Grease

    The Clay bit:

    As “Teen Angel” in the Pittsburgh CLO’s production of Grease, Clay Aiken is only on stage for about five minutes. Those five minutes, however, are fab-u-lous.

    If there were any doubt that the American Idol alumnus is still popular, one only needed to listen to the thunderous applause and squeals erupting throughout the Benedum Center on opening night as Aiken sang “Beauty School Dropout” in silver platform shoes, a sparkling pink suit, and Beethoven-like wig.

    Remember those years between Aiken becoming runner-up on American Idol and appearing on the cover of People magazine declaring “Yes, I’m gay” when people still wondered about his sexuality? Me either. 2019 Clay Aiken is G-A-Y. And he embraces it, like an over-sized Martin Short in drag; his theatrics on point, and his voice booming. This Clay Aiken would have won American Idol.


  11. Recaps from luckiest1 at CV, used by permission:

    Sunday afternoon show:

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    Clayitagain and I attended the 2 pm show and sat on balcony row E.  AMAZING!!!  When Clay came down the stairs in that suit, OMG we just about peed ourselves. His voice filled every inch of that place. He was so campy and funny and we wish wed brought binoculars. When he squealed and backed up to the shirtless guys, we were dying. I really hope we get clack that shows all the facial expressions!  We are going back tonight to sit in orchestra row J ("National Inclusion Project" seats) and then we have our M&G.  We waited an hour this afternoon at stage door but he did not appear.

    Sunday evening show:

    Well that was the best way to cap off a fabulous day!!!!  Clay was so sweet in the M&G. He said hes out of shape and is exhausted every time he sings his number. He says he does nothing until after intermission (tonight he watched the Tonys) and everyone else works so much harder than him.

    😂. He asked us about our trip from the Toronto area, how long it took, realized we had to drive around the lake etc. I told him we missed the gala this year because my daughter got married. He said we should have come anyways, then signed a program for her and her wife with a congratulatory message on it (awwwwww, what a guy).  He also took a picture of my leg (tatoo) 😜  
    The show tonight was fantastic. Our "National Inclusion Project" seats were excellent, row J centre orchestra. We could see all the facial expressions and no one sat in front of us so no heads!  Clays expressions were so over the top and hilarious.  He sings the first part of his song, then gives Frenchie her diploma, and she throws into the orchestra pit. He gets a look of disgust on his face and says baby you blew it! before he reprises the song.  It just kills me, what a character he is. He got so many hoots and hollers and tons of applause, throughout the song and st the end of it.