During the Sept. 11 dress rehearsal for Sunnyvale Community Players’ “Grease,” the show began with a boy and a girl separately bragging about their summer romance to high school peers in the upbeat “Summer Nights.” With youth and adults in the talented cast, this lively show opened on Sept. 15 and will run through Oct. 7.
“Since it’s the 50th year of the Sunnyvale Community Players, we’re having a show set in the ’50s,” said Bill Starr, the show director.
The soloists demonstrated highly polished voices. At a slumber party, Aly Casas (as Marty) gushed over an overseas beau in “Freddy, My Love.” Sam Nachison (as Kenickie) was ready to go cruising in his new car, “Greased Lightnin’.” Kriselle Kelsey (as Rizzo) publicly scoffed at abstinence in “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” while privately distressed over a possible unplanned pregnancy. Rocky James Concepcion (as Roger) and Jamie Gussman (as Jan) playfully flirted with each other in “Mooning.”
Portraying the love struck Sandy was Melissa Gialdini, performing in her first musical in eight years. While singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” Gialdini focused on her character’s conflicted emotions.
“‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ is such an iconic song,” Gialdini said. “There were parts of the song when Olivia Newton John would slide up from one note to the next and give the tune a twang, like a country feel. Mary Carroll, the vocal director, helped me re-work the song so there was less of that, with just singing the notes as is.”
As the figment of a teenage girl’s fantasy, Teen Angel, played by Giuseppe Vaccaro, serenaded Frenchy (Amanda Nguyen) with “Beauty School Dropout.” Vaccaro’s costume comprised of giant white wings decorated with feathers and holiday lights that Vaccaro must remember to switch on.
“For the reprise, I hit the falsetto notes to leave the audience with something big and grand,” Vaccaro said. “Sometimes called the head voice, the falsetto has always come easy for me. Using the falsetto voice was very popular back in the 1950s.”
Playing the music-loving Doody was Paul Lee, who multi-tasked his guitar playing with his happy-go-lucky solo, “Those Magic Changes.”
“You have to do two different things with the brain. It’s like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time,” Lee said of his multi-tasking. “I learned guitar from watching YouTube videos and self-taught myself the rest. Before doing the show, I never played the guitar and sang at the same time.”
As bad boy Danny, Nick Dale sadly sang “Alone at the Drive In Movie” after Sandy broke off their date mid-way through a movie. Before the scene began, Dale and some other cast members had the arduous task of pushing a small car onto the stage. At the end of the scene, Dale got into character and burst into tears.
“Mary Carroll, the vocal director, gave me tips on the direction of the number,” Dale said. “You can play it for the comedy or have it tug at the heart strings. She had me find the middle ground on the emotions.”