Friday, March 27, 2009

Grease is Again the Word

My favorite thing about going to a show at The Golden Gate Theatre is in getting there. In the distance, I could see the corner of Market and 6th Street. Having had this view many times over the years, I know that safety awaited me at that corner. The wide doors of the ancient and palatial theatre will be open, giving me safe haven as I fling myself through, shielded by the rent-a-guards that buffer the building from the rabble on the street.

I take a deep breath, try to look sort of crazy and pissed off, and begin my four block trek from Taylor and Geary. Wading through the human excrement and puddles of urine, I encounter beggars, pimps, she-males on parade, meth addicts, runaway teens, and a myriad of the rest of the hoi polloi that inhabit San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Finally I reach my destination. I know I'm there because I see the smiling face of Taylor Hicks, the newly anointed Teen Angel, looking down on me. It gives me a sense of peace and otherworldly comfort. Enough of this, lets talk about the show.

Actually I couldn't believe I went to see Grease. A show with no depth, a moral which basically says, "If you want the boy bad enough, act like a slut and make him think he's going to get some and he'll be yours, ... the end." But attend, I did. And what a seat I had! As you can see in the photo my free tickets assigned me to row trillion, seat XX. My head literally rested against the back wall of the building. The place was sold out. Throngs of screaming fans of all ages, girls dressed in costume, boys dressed in costume, middle aged men dressed like the Fonz filled the cavernous theatre. Excitment was in the air. This goofy show actually has a cult following. I was flabbergasted. As for the show, the actors were directed to play to the back of the house, which I appreciated greatly. The choreography was superb, and the director was able to find many comic moments in the show that weren't necessarily built into the book. Beyond this, there really is nothing special about Grease.

What I can't figure out is why I enjoyed myself so much. Was it my memory of Olivia Newton- John playing Sandy on the big screen. I was sixteen and vacationing in Tahoe with my family when the movie was released. I have the distinct memory of seeing Olivia on the big screen in her tight leather pants and doing that thing she did with her eyes. I believe I saw the movie three times in six days.

Now lets talk about Taylor Hicks. The prematurely gray Teen Angel of American Idol fame, uses this production as a platform to launch his new album. Things got strange when during his "Beauty School Dropout" duet with Frenchy the actress blurted out, "I voted for you!" They got stranger when Hicks took out his harmonica and began playing a blues riff, off key, at the end of "Beauty School Dropout" as he ascended into heaven in a giant plastic Ice Cream Cone. At the curtain call, Hicks ran off stage in the middle of it the encore. After the longest curtain call in the history of curtain calls, he reappeared in his characteristic jeans and muted top, microphone in hand and began to sing the single from his new album. You could feel the disdain from the crowd wafting up toward the rafters. I almost choked on it. People in the balcony began to get up from their seats to leave. And in a move of utter brilliance, the lighting guys turned on a half dozen follow spots and shined them directly up into the balcony. Everyone sat down like scolded school children and politely waited for Mr. Hicks to finish selling his album. What made it even stranger was that after the show there were two announcements. One was to throw a dollar in the pot on your way out to benefit Actors' Equity for A.I.D.S., and the second announcement wast to get Taylor's' album, and look for him in the lobby so that he could sign it for you: only in America.


  1. Sounds like an interesting performance. Not sure that I want to see it exactly but it could be fun.

  2. Hi! Great review and thoughts on this coming back for the ga-zillionth time! Would you be interested in reviewing shows for my group? we would get you tickets for an upcoming play as long as you could review it on your blog. We do PR for mainly Theatreworks in Mountain View/Palo Alto...they do some pretty awesome shows that are considered fresh, new, and cutting-edge. Let me know what you think and we can send you a press release when we have them ready!