It may be the word you’ve heard over a million times, but Studio Tenn’s Grease at the Factory in Franklin is surprisingly fresh and will remind you of why this cleverly subversive phenomenon became a household name. So let’s slide right into it.
Melinda Doolittle easily steals the show as the Teen Angel. Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young make a smooth and dreamy Sandy and Danny, and Laura Matula and Liam Searcy make a rigid yet killer Rizzo and Kenickie. Talent is abundant throughout the entire cast. They really do go together like…well, insert whichever 1950’s scat lyrics here.
Matt Logan’s electric directorial vision and artistically minimalist scenic design are nothing to moon. Simple sets flowing through the space and the mesmerizing dance of cyan and magenta lighting create the dream-like atmosphere that is normally glazed over in other productions. After all, this play was never meant to be portrayed as “realism,” and Studio’s Tenn skilled production designers thankfully understand that.
How about that song and dance! Stephen Kummer and his seven-piece band make Music City proud. While moving ever so slightly into genre-bending (I see you and your gospel, “Beauty School Dropout”), Kummer and his band remain hopelessly devoted to the music we love (even if it’s from the movie and not the original musical). Billy Ditty’s eclectic choreographer is novel and refreshing, adding zest wherever it goes.
Don’t waste your time comparing Studio Tenn’s Grease to the 1978 film or even past Broadway iterations (original and revival); such will only contaminate your chance to be present with this energetic and wonderful production. Additional performances have been added, so get your tickets now before they slip away.