Milton and Pace High School joined together on stage for the final show of the production Grease.
The show opened strong at Rydell High School with "Summer Nights," an ensemble piece that set the precedent for the rest of the production. It was blaringly apparent that the cast and crew had put in time in the music room with Kevin Holland, musical director. The voices blended together well, with strength and authority, forming chords that entranced the audience with splendor.
The band, seated in the backdrop of the stage, kept the show chugging along smoothly between scene changes. The band director, Michael Schultz, was also in character, sporting a leather jacket with a T-Birds emblem on the back. The simple, visual cue brought overall cohesion to the production.
Tempting as it may have been, Pierce Gilmore held back from becoming heavy-handed on the drum set and kept the volume at a comfortable level with the vocals. The horn section filled in the rest, adding a succulent smoothness, reminiscent of a 50s high school prom. While the horns added the glaze, the strings provided the meat.
Shane Howell and Mallory Kennedy played their roles perfectly, as Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski. Howell captured the attitude and swagger of the tough-guy with a soft side. While Kennedy mirrored him well, portraying the innocent, young girl in her vocals as well as her acting presence on stage.
Taelin Nason displayed the sass and charisma of Betty Russo. Russo is a take-no-prisoners type of girl, and Nason sold it with each step. One scene featured her and the character Kenickie, played by Aaron Price, which garnered quite a response from the audience. Muffled laughter plagued the auditorium as the two "wrestled" on a scenic park bench.
There was an audible sigh of amazement when Kenickie pulled onstage in "Greased Lightning." The set designers did a stellar job of transforming a golf cart into a hot-rod. The staging changed quickly and seamlessly, yet still transported the audience back to the glory days of the 50s.
Costumes were of the same era and blended well in the production. The classic theme of "greasers and socials" was consistent and seemed easily identifiable by the audience.
Pace sophomore Loren Stone stunned the audience with his sudden, sharp falsetto. Applause erupted---it couldn't wait---after the tonal leap from one octave to another. His dancing was even more impressive, as he telegraphed each move with the fluidity and wonder of a waterfall.
His counterpart, Jan, played by Kinikia Cooper, kept up note for note and move for move through the production. Her quirkiness and pep added to the play and caught quite a few outbursts of laughter.
Tiffani Johnson played the role of Frenchy, a girl who drops out of beauty school and starts working as a waitress. She was joined on stage by Demetrius T. McNutt, the Teen Angel. He was dressed in an all-white tuxedo and serenaded Frenchy with a song to inspire the lost soul.
Members of the cast thanked the co-directors, Jennifer Bunnell from Milton and Valerie Wright from Pace. Their heartfelt messages caused a few tears on-stage and provoked a few warm smiles on the floor. It brought the show to a graceful closing.
One thing is for sure. Great things happen when Milton and Pace come together.