The latest selection isGrease, a particularly apt choice given that almost all of the characters are high-school students.
Under the light-handed direction of David Bahgat, the cheerful, entertaining production seems likably real instead of ironically slick.
Even as it pokes gentle fun at the cliches of 1950s high-school romance, it touches on persistent truths about adolescent pride and insecurity.
Beneath their posturings, the characters are vulnerable.
“Greaser” Danny (Ricky Locci) and good girl Sandy (Jordan Shafer) find themselves at the same high school after a summer romance.
Danny has to maintain his image as leader of the would-be gang of male T-Birds, and Sandy has to decide whether to join the female counterparts, the Pink Ladies, led by the sardonic Rizzo (Kelly Hogan).
Shafer’s Sandy is believably confused and conflicted, and Locci’s Danny is amusingly torn between image and feelings, often flipping between them several times in a matter of minutes.
The supporting characters, most of whom get a shot or two in the spotlight, are equally well-developed.
Hogan sparkles with energy as a Rizzo who can’t comfortably confine herself to such a little world. Jared Bradley is surprisingly touching as her suitor, who doesn’t quite know what to make of her.
Aaron Auld and Alicia Batterson, whose tribute to Mooning is a highlight of the show, make a sweet couple.
Rachael Scott is endearingly daffy rather than manipulative as the recipient of gifts from a besotted service member — as detailed inFreddy, My Love.
Natalee Swallows makes even the semi-villainous Patty Simcox more enchantingly ditsy and determined than mean-spirited.
The delightfully extravagant lighting by Brendan Michna — heightened by the liberal use of a fog machine — make the frills-free production look showy.
The athletic, stylized choreography by Brooke Walters keeps the momentum going and highlights the ever-changing dynamic between the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies. A peppy five-piece band, enhanced by Joy Norris on saxophone, nicely backs the musical numbers.
Parents of young children should be aware of sexual references and PG-13-rated language, although most of the double-entendres are likely to fly over the heads of younger audience members.
By Margaret Quamme