Long Beach, California – Since things started opening up last year from the pandemic, I’ve gone to a couple of events, but nothing quite beats the performing arts. So when I heard that Musical Theatre West was having Grease! at Long Beach’s Carpenter Theatre, I jumped at the opportunity, and reserved tickets for the entire family.
Fortunately, my family (save for my nephew whom I am a guardian), loves musicals. When I told them that I’m taking them to see Grease!, the ladies (wife and daughter) made a high pitched sound that I interpreted as glee. They were pretty excited. Even my nephew, who normally gives me that laissez faire “whatever” teenager attitude, and who doesn’t really care for musicals, mustered up what sounded like mild enthusiasm through his cracking voice.
The venue is pretty cool, too. Carpenter Theatre is located in Cal State Long Beach. It’s a very big theatre. Carpenter Theatre can seat 1,054 people, according to its website. Speaking of which, the seats were comfortable, and the aisles were spacious enough to get by seated guests with relatively little trouble. There’s also a drink and snack concession stand in the lobby, which also sells beer and wine.
Prior to the show, the Executive Producer Paul Garman talked about the epic struggle for the cast to come together post-Covid, and how the cast stepped up just prior to the show’s Opening Night to cover for others who had come down with Covid. Knowing that several of the cast members who were scheduled to play a certain character were not available that night, really got me appreciating the hard work for those cast members who had to pull double duty, and learn additional lines and then PERFORM them live.
Speaking of the cast, they were great! Musical Theatre West put a lot of work in creating a diverse cast. I’m pretty sure I even heard the Filipino greeting “Mabuhay!” during the performance.
And as for the show and the plot itself? Come on – it’s Grease – probably one of the most popular musicals ever created, thanks to John Travolta’s performance back in 1978. It’s a fun story set in a high school during the 1950s. I do have one particular problem with Grease, though, and it’s not the fault of Musical Theatre West. My beef is with the authors Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, so I’ll put it this way: one character changes her entire persona seemingly to please a certain love interest. I’m sure the two authors have heard this criticism before, because I also discovered there is a response to it. It has been argued that this character was always on a road to self-discovery during the entire show, and she eventually discovered herself to be a greaser.
I don’t know how one discovers themselves to be greasers, but hey – you do you, Boo.
There’s a little under a week left to enjoy the show. Reserve tickets at https://musical.org/grease/