A Lucy Lawless Musical Theatre Subsite - GREASE!
LIVE ON STAGE: LUCY LAWLESS in GREASE!
A Review by Kristo
I spent a dream vacation in Manhattan and next to viewing the Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, seeing Lucy Lawless perform on stage as Rizzo in the Broadway musical GREASE! was the highlight of the week. Highlights, since I was fortunate and viewed the show three times: opening night on September second, the following Friday night on the fifth and the Saturday Matinee on the afternoon of the sixth. Each
performance was different in subtle ways, and always thrilling because this show is a high-energy, fast-moving audiovisual ride.
The Broadway Musical has some major differences compared with the 1977 movie (the musical was written first) and I really missed the "Chills" song but the bodily impact of seeing GREASE! live more than made up for the loss. The
lyrics of such songs as "Born to Hand Jive" and the choreography that attends are phenomenally intricate. The fact that Lucy sings and dances so very well after having only 10 days to rehearse is a testament to her grand spirit and
of course, her tremendous talent. There were moments when her singing voice was too soft to hear well, particularly on Friday night, and I was reminded at how different performing in a live Broadway musical must be to acting in a
filmed tv series: you can't "cut" and redo a scene and the whole sound carries differently. And on Saturday, Lucy's voice carried best of all. Her voice is rich and she has a good range. In the first act her "Greases Lightning" (Reprise) was sung pure Broadway style, with volume and "punch" in all the right places and it was wonderful and extremely sexy. She also sang "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" with a quick and sinful twist that moved the audience. And the audience favorite (in the shows I attended) was "There are Worse Things I Could Do" and "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" (Reprise).
Here Lucy's acting ability is showcased when she reveals Rizzo's caring and vulnerable heart to Sandy. The tears glisten in her eyes. Her voice is suddenly unsure and she wins us all in that moment because we see that the
"bad girl" has a precious heart when the protective shell is removed. She won't make empty promises (a strong sense of integrity mixed with high amounts of hormones) and she does not want her softer side to be known...but when she
thinks she is pregnant and Sandy has the courage to probe, she breaks down and reveals herself to "miss tight-ass". This is the real turning point in the musical, Rizzo and Sandy showing their deepest selves to each other, opposites becoming true friends.
There were moments of humor and acknowledgment of the X:WP fans (the Xena yell Rizzo throws at Cha Cha Digregorio during the Prom) that the audience loved. The cast grinned at the audience display of enthusiasm and they were like a big warm family during the "Grease" Finale. Sean introduced Lucy as the newest member of the cast and Lucy gave thanks to the cast and to the audience. On Tuesday, opening night, she acknowledged that some people in the audience had "traveled a long way", notably looking at Sylvia from New Zealand and Becki from Washington, both in the front row behind the musical director.
And there I was too, from California. On Friday three nights later, Lucy seemed embarrassed at this point, while on Saturday afternoon she did not and perhaps it was because she had more energy to put into her performance this
time. She was handed a bouquet of flowers from the audience. "You shouldn't have", and she probably meant it. She is a gracious lady, with many bouquets. Saturday afternoon she said she was having the time of her life, "...I'm
having the best time ever." Then she instructed New York to rock 'n roll before the last verse of Grease! The curtain closed. Our hands were getting numb from applauding. What a wonderful Broadway debut for Lucy.
The entire cast is excellent. At times it seemed that Sean McDermott (Danny Zuko) was doing an Elvis impersonation (the right moves and voice timber) and he is a manly man with a sensitive quality. Melissa Dye (Sandy Dumbrowski)
like Sean and the majority of the cast is a veteran of Broadway. Voice strong and sweet, her eyes sparkle as she sings "Since I Don't Have You" with pathos and yearning. Steve Geyer (Kenickie) makes his Broadway debut along with Lucy, and he is the most envied actor in the Xenaverse since he plays Rizzo's main squeeze. And Rizzo and Kenickie do press each other a lot. Imagine getting paid to do that. But of course, it is hard work along with all the
singing and dancing in jeans and leather. Perspiration is the word.
After opening night I met with several Xenites at Meow Mix. Its a dive with character. It was a treat to talk with Becki , Carl, Kimba, Rachelle and the owner. Rachelle showed us the autographs she had gotten after the show and so
the next evening my friend and I made sure to be outside the stage door of the theater in hopes of getting Lucy's autogragh. The crowd started to get thick about the time I changed my mind but I could not leave since the crowd was
tight. I was stuck in place. I talked with the family next to me and enjoyed the little girl sitting on top of her father's shoulders. They had traveled most of the day to make the show and the little one was tired. We remained in
place behind the police barricades just outside the stage door when suddenly the actors began coming out one at a time. There were brief cheers for the cast members who smiled and kept moving.
Then Lucy came out and the crowd went wild, shouting "Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!" There were pens and photos and papers and playbills and magazines held out. My ears were ringing and I really didn't want to be there. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder and later discovered a long ink stain on the back of my coat. It was like a feeding frenzy. Lucy pulled out a pen and said something like "I have my own" and began quickly signing all the papers thrust toward her. People continued to shout her name but it became less intense as she worked her way around the crowd. She signed perhaps 100 or 150 in 10 minutes. She signed the little girl's photo and had signed mine and was working on another when the cute little three year old said slowly "Thank you Lucy." Lucy stopped for a moment and looked at the youngster sitting high on her dad's shoulders amidst the crowd. She hesitated for a second and then smiled and replied, "You're welcome darlin'", before quickly moving on. Finally she asked "Is that it then?" and it was, she had signed them all. She ducked into the black Lincoln Continental and the satisfied crowd dispersed. Whew! Well, I had gotten the autograph for a friend and that is the end of my autograph-seeking. But I hope to travel again to see Lucy Lawless sing...on or off Broadway.
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