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(Posted 11:30 a.m., April 16)

'Great' is the word to describe Lester B. Pearson production of Grease
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Raed Khaddaj, as Danny Zucko, and Therese Agpoon, as Sandy D, perform in the final number in the Lester B. Pearson production of 'Grease!'. Fred Sherwin/Photo


It's hard to believe that it's been 29 years since Grease! first hit the movie theatres and produced a wildly successful soundtrack album that has sold over 100 million copies.

Songs like "You're the One That I Want" and "Summer Nights" have been etched -- some might say regrettably -- into public psyche.

One of the things that has kept the Grease! phenomena alive for so long is the fact that the songs have managed to transcend the generation gap. DVD sales are still incredibly strong as mostly moms continue to pass along their love of the movie to their mostly daughters.

An indication of the play's timelessness is the fact that it continues to be the most often performed high school play in history.

This past week, a highly energetic cast and crew took on the ambitious production at Lester B. Pearson High School. The result was tremendously entertaining. Saturday night's closing performance was witnessed by an enthusiastic standing room only audience that ate up every number and often sang along.

As for the principal players, Therese Agpoon was terrific as Sandy Dumbrowski, playing the part with just the right amount of sweet innocence and adolescent naiveté. But it was her voice that stood out the most, especially during her duet with Cha Cha, played by Cassie Esprit, which opened the second half of the play.

As for Esprit's performance, wow, my only regret is that she didn't get more stage time, but that's one of the reasons that Grease! is such a popular high school production. No one character monopolizes the production. The musical numbers are spread out pretty evenly between the five or six main characters.

Raed Khaddaj as Danny Zucko also delivered a strong performance especially when he had to depend on his falsetto at the end of "Summer Nights" and "All Choked Up". John Travolta would be proud.

Other performances that stood out include Sami Majdalany as Kernicke, Chantal Leveille as Rizzo and Christian Pawlowski who did double duty as the smooth talking radio deejay Vince Fontaine and the Teen Angel.

Special mention as well about Elizabeth Aylward who played one of the Burger Palace Boys and SeWon Park who was a revelation. As a member of the chorus, Park's energy and enthusiasm stood out above the pack and even end him several spontaneous ovations.

Speaking of the chorus, as strong as the individual performances were, it was the large production numbers that made the play such a wonderful spectacle. "Born To Hand-Jive", "All Choked Up" and "We Go Together" were all superb.

Speaking of superb, kudos to set designers Leslie Morin and Barbara MacLellan and Robert Beckett who headed up the set construction team. All the sets were professionally done and helped raise the quality of the overall production.

The Lester B. Pearson stage band also did an amazing job providing the musical accompaniment under the direction of Pierre Huneault.

Besides the actors already mentioned, the remainder of the principal cast included Sabrina Mayer as Frenchie, Haley Bentham as Patty Simcox, Laura Young as Jan, Erin Gurski as Marty, Daniel Rheaume as Roger, Nikolas Angelo as Sonny, Tara Donis as Joni Casino, Fiona Griffin as Miss Lynch and Brandon Kennedy as Eugene.

The chorus was made up of Betty Dib, Ashley Fuentes, Serena Diab, Tyler Graham, April Haggart, Christopher Marton, Sophia Pantuso, Jose Sandoval, Marina Scherf and Charles Stewart.

Providing them all direction was the director Nona Luchenski-MacMillan, assistant director Sally Branch and stage manager Chantal Calderone.

Members of the cast perform the hand-jive during the Lester B. Pearson production of 'Grease!' last week. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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