The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera's production of "Grease" is a 1950's rock n' roll extravaganza that's a parody of the entire teen subculture of the Elvis Period. As you enter the theater the screen is a scrim with a picture of a high school yearbook. It has the Rydell High Class of '59 with individual photos and great signatures to the students. The P.A. plays genuine '50's rock n'roll. The tunes in the show are take-offs on some well known songs like "The Hop," which is turned into "Shakin at the High School Hop," and some more obscure ones like the Big Bopper's "White Lightnin'" which is turned into "Greased Lightnin,'" Kenickie's new wreck, er-car. The show opens with a genuine audience participation twist contest. DJ Vince Fontaine, decked out in a gold sequin jacket calls volunteers on stage, picks three finalists, and sends the rest off. The finalists all get prizes ranging from combs used in "Grease" to burgers and autographed photos of Vince Fontaine. The cast enters from the audience in caps and gowns. It's the Reunion, and they look back, shed the graduation duds, and away we go with the first day of school. The Pink Ladies and Burger Palace Boys alternate songs, the stories of their summer. There's stop action as one group sings, the other freezes and the lights dim on them, shine on the other, and back and forth. At the Pajama Party Marty sings a doo-wop number, "Freddy my Love," a song about her boy friend Freddy who enlisted in the Marines and is sending her gifts from Japan. Next, a street light becomes the set as the Burger Palace Boys are stealing hubcaps. Turns out there're Kenickie's from his car, "Greased Lightnin.'" After the rollicking number that was originally Pappy's Still, oops, we find out that he had stolen them, as we hear the siren of the fuzz. Patty and Sandy sing the Rydell fight song, and when the boys are together, LaTierri lights up a cigarette just as Miss Lynch appears behind him. When he tries to pass it to the other guys, they back off. He flips it into his mouth, turns around, greets her, and when she leaves, he flips it back out again.
Back at the High School Hop, the kids do the Jitterbug and have a great time, all except Sandy, who is alone in her room where it's "Raining on Prom Night." She just doesn't fit in, and her love for Danny is suffering for it. Johnny Casino sings "Hand Jive" and Vince Fontaine conducts the Dance Contest. Frenchy is as distraught as she can get. After dropping out of High School, she is now the "Beauty School Dropout." Teen Angel flies down from the ceiling, and the Beauty School Angels join her for the Doo-wop number. Danny is left "Watching Wherewolves Without You" in "Alone at the Drive-in-Movie" before Jan's party and Sandy's make-over. "Grease" is fun. It's also a commentary on the time. The backdrop for most of the show has the icons of '59. There are Nixon and Kennedy for President buttons. An old Edsel is pictured along with James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. It's about peer pressure. Sandy doesn't drink or smoke, but she's pushed into both, and more, so she can have friends, and hang out with the Pink Ladies. Danny loves Sandy, but his buddies mock him, and things get quite rough. All shakes out in the end, though in this delightful production of "Grease" by The Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera. It continues at the Granada Theater through May 2.