Review: 50 YEARS LATER – It’s still greased lightning in TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE: THE GREASE 50TH REUNION At 54 Below
Heigh-Ho, my happy rainbow family! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW review here. Put the silent T in cabareT to bring you EVERYTHING the T!
Well my dear Rainbow Tribe, Monday night’s landmark Broadway outing was none other than the fabulous celebration, TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE: THE 50TH GREASE REUNION At Feinstein’s/54 Below – For true queens, GREASE!! Bobby had been on a roll from the moment the boss, the lovable Stephen Mosher, handed over this assignment. The show actually started when we were seated with John and Jackie from Jersey who proved to be the most pleasant dining companions, even offering to buy us a drink or dessert. The conversation we had about life in the city and the shows we love bonded us beautifully before the curtain went up. The other show, the one on stage, was hosted by epic GREASE originals James Canning (Doody) and the beaming Marilu Henner (Marty) who took the audience, many of whom were GREASE alumni, right to the start. in Chicago to tell how the writers composers Jim Jacobs and the late Warren Casey had a chance meeting at a party where discussions of rock & roll musicals led to the sudden realization of the perfect track – GREASE. Launching the setlist, Henner took great pleasure in reminding the crowd that it was his honor to be the first person to sing FREDDY MY LOVE and took even more pleasure when all the former Pink Ladies in the house performed perfectly. responded to backup OOH. and OH YEAAAHs as she sang. Then it was Canning’s turn to tie up his guitar and show that, 50 years later, he still had the pipes for the impossible high THESE MAGIC CHANGES. Daytime drama diva Ilene Kristen – who looks fantastic in a sparkly blue-green mini dress, brought pom poms to Patty Simcox and a load of laughs on stage with her story about her “cut out of the box” number. city” – YEUGHHH! The highlight of the night, however, came when luminous Sandy original Carole Demas brought tears to song and tears of laughter from the house with the comedy soap opera, RAINING ON PROM NIGHT. Ray DeMattis – a replacement Roger – Bee Bopped with Canning on ROCK AND ROLL PARTY QUEEN and proved he still had it on the novelty number regarding his behind, MOONING. Substitute Frenchy, Ellen March brought her make-up bag with her, then masterfully acted out her character’s monologue on washing her program leading to Bob Garrett’s entrance through the house, all in white and with a fabulous voice. for her Teen Angel’s BEAUTY SCHOOL DROP OUT. Finally, it was up to two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye (who, at the time, made her Broadway debut as Rizzo) to bring it all home by hitting THERE ARE WORSE THINGS I COULD DO out of the park, proving that those who trill Mezzo, can also belt Alto.
Now my lambs, this is the summary of the evening and as you have read it was a fantastic night without a misstep or a flat note to be heard. It was a golden experience for which the picture painted above is only a pale attempt to convey the magic in this magic club on Monday night. “So where’s your ‘review’, Bobby?” we can almost hear you ask. Well, the review is this – each of the Monday night performers aged 70-82 (yes 82!) brought the fun, the party, and their A-games and put this one as Buster’s Gang. The enthusiasm, the energy, the drive that these actors gave to each other and their audience was the real deal. there wasn’t a single moment when anyone watching at 54 Below considered these certain age artists with an “Awww, aren’t they cute?” because we were all too busy knocking our Bobby socks off all the way to 54th Street. No piece of geriatric memory was this reunion with elders trying to grasp the former glory that passed them by, it was a SHOW put on by people who deserve to have a SHOW anytime, anywhere , and that includes on our beloved Big Street, and we the public deserve to see their show, and oh how Bobby wishes you were all there my lovely rainbow readers. in this era of greater diversity in entertainment, seasoned performers will be included in all new works and productions that are now climbing to open their writing, directing and casting minds. Each performer Monday night is a resource that should be leveraged for our scenes from now on. You see, darlings, musical theater is just that, singing actors of all ages and types acting out moments in song in a way that reaches our souls because the moment is real, powerful, funny, sad, joyful and wonderfully conveyed with as much heart as art. It was TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE: THE GREASE 50TH REUNION At Feinstein’s/54 Below, and for this beautiful presentation by these singing actors with the support of their exceptional musical director, Michael Orland, and the prompt direction of Tom Moore, Bobby has to give them the full…
5 out of 5 rainbows… (And if you lambs want to get a real feel for this deal, check out more not-too-shabby photos of Bobby below.)
PS – John & Jackie, thanks for sharing this memory, and for heaven’s sake wasn’t it worth the blanket and minimal food/bevvie just to get up and dance with the pandemonium that was – US LET’S GO TOGETHER.
Reunion shows often happen at 54 below and you should keep an eye on their schedule: HERE
All photos by Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick